Missouri State defenders force four turnovers, produce three scores
SPRINGFIELD — Missouri State ran over 100 plays Saturday morning in the Bears’ first full scrimmage of the spring. But despite nearly 400 yards produced by the offense, it was MSU’s defensive unit that stood out, forcing four turnovers and scoring three touchdowns during the 90-minute session at Plaster Field.
“I thought it was a typical first scrimmage,” said head coach Terry Allen. “I thought the defense did some really good things. One thing that disappointed me was the penalties and the lack of ball security by the offense, especially during the latter part of the scrimmage.”
The offense was whistled for eight penalties in all, including five false starts, that served to kill some key drives early. In fact, the offense’s first scoring drive was manufactured by the third team with Brodie Lambert pushing the offense 64 yards to the 6-yard line before settling for the first of three field goals on the day by Austin Witmer.
Shortly after that, Ashton Glaser marched the second-team unit 62 yards to the 8-yard line before the drive stalled there, setting up another Witmer kick. Glaser’s first completion of the day went for 37 yards to Adam Judnich as the senior signal-caller finished 11-for-22 for 135 yards.
Senior linebacker Nick Canavan was one of several standouts on the defensive side of the ball. He produced a key heads-up play midway through the scrimmage by scooping up a dropped lateral pass and scampering 48 yards for a touchdown. Later, a fumble recovery by John Edwards and interception by Jarvis Jones were whistled dead before they could reach paydirt in plays Allen said he chalked up as defensive touchdowns.
Late in the scrimmage, the offense scored four times with starting QB Kierra Harris getting things started with a 36-yards scamper for a score to cap a quick 40-yard drive. Later, with a short field, Ryan Heaston found the end zone from 8 yards out for the offense’s second TD.
Glaser later drove the offense 25 yards to the 15 to set up a 32-yard field goal by Witmer. And then on the final drive of the day, Heaston broke free from the 10-yard line and got stacked up at the 1 before fumbling. Fortunately, Dorian Buford was there to scoop up the loose ball and step across the goal line for the score. To put an exclamation point on a solid defensive effort, the ensuing extra point was blocked to end the morning.
The defense also accounted for four sacks, including two by Martin Montgomery. Jeremiah Plowden added an interception for the defense, which finished the day surrendering just 2.1 yards per rush and 3.7 yards per play overall.
Julian Burton and Buford each caught six passes for the offense to lead the way, while Harris finished 11-for-21 through the air for 115 yards. Austin Cahoy was the top rusher, getting over 5 yards per carry to finish with 7 touches for 36 yards, while Heaston carried 6 times for 24 yards.
The Bears are back at it this week with three practices leading into next Saturday’s 9 a.m. scrimmage at Plaster Field. Spring drills conclude on April 20 with the annual Maroon and White Game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. The spring scrimmages are free and open to the public.
Austin Cahoy 7-36; Ryan Heaston 6-24; Josh Mattes 10-22; Vernon Scott 3-15; Kierra Harris 4-15; Brodie Lambert 5-7; Cedric Miller 10-5; Dorian Buford 0-1; Mikael Cooper-Falls 6-(-2); Team 1-(-12).
PASSING: (56-28-2, 288 yds)
Ashton Glaser 22-11-0, 135; Kierra Harris 21-11-1, 115; Brodie Lambert 10-4-1, 28; Alex Lawson 2-1-0, 9; Shane Hartzler, 1-1-0, 1.
Julian Burton 6-68; Dorian Buford 6-56; Marvell Saffold 4-18; Stacey Thornton 3-31; Adam Judnich 2-38; Ryan Heaston 2-33; Eric Christophel 2-31; Tyren Price 2-8; Matt Swan 1-5.
Austin Witmer 23 (good), 25 (good), 32 (good).
OFFENSIVE SCORING PLAYS:
Austin Witmer 23 yd. field goal
Austin Witmer 25 yd. field goal
Kierra Harris 36 yd. run (no PAT)
Ryan Heaston 8 yd. run (Marcelo Bonani kick)
Austin Witmer 32 field goal
Dorian Buford 1 yd. run (Bonani kick blocked)
DEFENSIVE SCORING PLAYS:
Jarvis Jones (Int), Nick Canavan (FR), John Edwards (FR)