Kierra Harris finishes with 265 passing yards, and offense scores 43 points to overshadow three turnovers
SPRINGFIELD — After the defense got things going out of the gates, it was the Missouri State offense that ended the Bears’ second full scrimmage on a high note as coach Terry Allen’s troops went through the paces of over 120 plays at Plaster Field on Saturday morning.
On the first play from scrimmage, the offense was called for a false start, and the defense then stepped up with a safety on the next play after wrapping up tailback Vernon Scott in the end zone for a one-yard loss. Starting quarterback Kierra Harris also had trouble finding his rhythm early, completing just three of his first 10 pass attempts before he got things on track to finish 18-for-31 for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
Harris eventually marched the first unit down the field within scoring range thanks to the help of running back Cedric Miller. But the drive eventually stalled, and Austin Witmer’s first field goal attempt of the day, a 45-yarder, sailed just right.
“I thought we were better on both sides of the ball today than we were last week,” said Allen. “We cut down on a lot of foolish penalties. I thought our defense was really good in the first part of the scrimmage. They set the tone with a safety on the first play. But the offense responded, came back and made some big plays.”
The first big play came when Harris connected with Julian Burton down the near sideline for a 65-yard touchdown strike with Burton fighting off a defender the last 20 yards to find paydirt. Burton later added receptions of 39 and 22 yards to finish the day with 6 catches for 153 yards.
Harris continued to keep the offense rolling during the middle part of the scrimmage. At one point, he completed seven straight passes to account for 105 yards in that stretch. His first big drive led the offense 56 yards to the 9-yard line before a Marcelo Bonani field goal attempt was blocked by Anthony Grady. Harris later made connections with returning All-MVC first-teamer Dorian Buford on a 43-yard touchdown catch in the right corner of the end zone.
Harris closed out the scrimmage with a pair of scoring drives, the first was capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Miller. Harris then executed the two-minute offense perfectly on the final drive of the day to set up a 30-yard Witmer kick, his third successful field goal.
Ashton Glaser manufactured three big drives of his own with the second-team unit. His 40-yard pass to Zac Hoover set up a 39-yard field goal by Witmer. Moments later, Glaser called his own number from two yards out to cap a 45-yard touchdown drive followed by a Bonani PAT. Glaser and Hoover later hooked up again for an 8-yard touchdown pass to put the finishing touches on another 45-yard scoring drive. Glaser finished 8-for-18 through the air for 90 yards.
Defensively, cornerback Jarvis Jones picked up a key interception and broke up three passes. Andrew Beisel tacked on a fumble recovery, and Sybhrian Berry snagged an interception. The defense also accounted for 6 sacks in all and surrendered just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground.
Miller’s 37-yard from scrimmage late in the morning, the longest of the day by the Bears, set him up as the club’s top rusher with 9 attempts for 58 yards. Josh Mattes carried 10 times for 32 yards, and Austin Cahoy continued to impress with 9 carries for 27 yards.
In addition to Burton’s big day, Hoover finished with 6 catches for 68 yards, while Buford had 5 for 74 as just seven players accounted for the team’s 26 receptions.
After a rough first scrimmage with penalties, the offense was flagged just once after the first play of the day, and the defense was penalized three times for 40 yards.
With just a week of spring workouts remaining, the Bears are scheduled to practice Monday and Thursday afternoons this week before wrapping things up next Saturday (April 20) with the annual Maroon and White Game at Plaster Field at 1 p.m. The game is free and open to the public with basic stadium amenities available.
Cedric Miller 9-58; Josh Mattes 10-32; Austin Cahoy 9-27; Kierra Harris 11-24; Ryan Heaston 9-17; Vernon Scott 6-17; Mikael Cooper-Falls 4-4; Ashton Glaser 3-(-5); Alex Lawson 1-(-5).
PASSING (54-26-2, 355):
Kierra Harris 31-18-0, 265; Glaser 18-8-1, 90; Brodie Lambert 3-0-1, 0; Alex Lawson 2-0-0.
Julina Burton 6-153; Zac Hoover 6-68; Dorian Buford 5-74; Adam Judnich 4-29; Eric Christophel 3-20; Mikael Cooper-Falls 1-7; Gannon Sinclair 1-4.
Austin Witmer 45 (wide right), 39 (good), 32 (good), 30 (good); Marcelo Bonani 26 (blocked).
OFFENSIVE SCORING PLAYS:
Julian Burton 65 yd pass from Kierra Harris (Austin Witmer kick)
Austin Witmer 39 yd field goal
Ashton Glaser 2 yd run (Marcelo Bonani kick)
Dorian Buford 43 yd pass from Kierra Harris (Austin Witmer kick)
Zac Hoover 8 yd pass from Ashton Glaser (Marcelo Bonani kick)
Austin Witmer 32 yd field goal
Cedric Miller 3 yd run (Marcelo Bonani kick failed)
Austin Witmer 30 yd field goal
DEFENSIVE SCORING PLAYS
Team Safety; Jarvis Jones (Int).
Assistant Director of Athletics, Communications
Missouri State University
Office – (417) 836-5402
Direct – (417) 836-4585
Fax – (417) 836-4868