Missouri State’s offense scored seven touchdowns to lead it to a 51-21 win over the maroon-clad defense in the Bears’ annual Maroon and White Spring Football Game here Saturday.
Quarterback Brodie Lambert completed 20-of-31 passes for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the offense, while fellow quarterbacks Breck Ruddick and Michael Briggs also had big days. Ruddick threw for 92 yards and a touchdown while tacking on a 69-yard TD scamper of his own in the first quarter. Briggs saw most of his snaps in the second half but was 12-for-15 through the air for 120 yards and a pair of TD passes.
“I thought both Breck and Brodie did a great job, and it was really a credit to the offensive line and how they performed for each quarterback because later in the game, Briggs came in and did a great job too,” said second-year head coach Dave Steckel.
The game was scored in the traditional manner for the offense which accounted for its 51 points through seven touchdowns, six extra points and a 21-yard field goal by Zach Drake.
Overall, the offense racked up 628 yards on 112 plays and accounted for 68 percent of its production through the air.
On the ground, MSU finished with 49 carries for 200 yards as a unit with Johnson leading the way as the game’s top rusher with 17 attempts for 86 yards.
“Phoenix did a really good job out there and got a lot of carries along with (Jason) Randall and Nick (Masoner). Overall, our running backs did a great job and made some good plays,” Stec said.
The defense was awarded seven points for every forced turnover, which included interceptions by DeAndre Williams and Darius Ivy as well as a fumble recovery by Skyler Hulse that set up a second-half touchdown by Phoenix Johnson.
Deion Holliman and Zac Hoover dominated the receiving game for the offense. Holliman snagged a pair of touchdown passes as part of his 93-yard afternoon on 6 receptions. He hauled in an 8-yard pass from Lambert for the first score of the game and tacked on a 58-yard reception from Ruddick in the second quarter. Hoover was equally impressive, scoring twice in the second half on 6- and 7-yard passes from Briggs to finish with 5 catches for 71 yards.
Tight end Erik Furmanek also recorded a touchdown – a 20-yard pass from Lambert late in the opening quarter.
On the defensive side, the Bears forced 12 punts to go with their three takeaways. Redshirt freshman linebacker McNeece Egbim carried the brunt of the load with 14 total stops and a pass break-up. Williams’ 27-yard interception return in the fourth quarter nearly set up the final score of the game, but time expired with the offense knocking on the door at the 1-yard line.
Steckel and his staff will now have a little more than three months to digest the afternoon’s performances and prepare for the upcoming 2016 campaign. The Bears report back to Springfield for fall camp on August 2 with the team’s season opener coming on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Robert W. Plaster Stadium against Southwestern College at 6 p.m.