Photo/Missouri State Athletics

Photo/Missouri State Athletics

Missouri State’s fourth-quarter rally came up short in the first match-up of ranked teams at Plaster Stadium in 18 years Saturday, as No. 12 Youngstown State held the No. 23 Bears to 227 yards of total offense to notch a 14-7 victory in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both squads.

The Penguins (4-1, 1-0 MVFC), who kept the Bears off the scoreboard for the first 55 minutes of the contest, registered a goal-line stand early in the fourth period, then came up with a game-clinching interception at their own 32 yard line with 2:21 to play. YSU harassed Kierra Harris all afternoon, holding the nation’s fourth-rated quarterback to just 9-of-28 passing for 75 yards, while the Bears’ offense converted only 2-of-14 third-down attempts.

Missouri State (3-2, 0-1 MVFC) made it interesting in the closing minutes after a Kurran Blamey blocked punt handed the home club the ball at the YSU 14 with 7:36 to play. The Bears kept the ball on the ground to advance to the Penguins’ 3, before a pass interference call on a third-down pass play gave MSU new life with a first down at the 2-yard line.

YSU stood its ground momentarily, stopping Phoenix Johnson for a two-yard loss on first down, before two incomplete passes forced a fourth-down for the Bears. Flushed from the pocket and under heavy pressure, Harris found a wide-open Gannon Sinclair a yard deep in the end zone to register MSU’s first points of the afternoon with just 4:58 left on the clock.

Needing a stop to regain possession for a final chance at a game-tying drive, the MSU defense came through when it mattered most, stopping the Penguins on three plays that used just 1:45 of clock time. After a short YSU punt gave the Bears prime field position at their own 43, Harris hooked up with Zac Hoover for MSU’s biggest offensive play of the day–a 19-yard completion to the YSU 38.

But Tre Moore came up with his second interception of the day, ending MSU’s hopes for a comeback and helping the Penguins record their first win over the Bears in five tries since 2007.

Story courtesy Missouri State Athletics