Bobby Petrino will have to wait a few months for his first victory as Missouri State Head Coach.
A drama-filled evening ended with a fall from Missouri State (0-3) 33-24 against FCS No. 11 Central Arkansas (3-3) on Saturday night at Plaster Stadium.
Missouri State turned the ball around early and often throughout the evening, ending the night with six turns. There were multiple changes with the quarterback as MSU ends the fall season at 0-3.
Lake:Missouri State Football Notes: Bears should be 2-1, but they keep beating themselves
The game was the fall finale in Missouri State as it now awaits the start of the Missouri Valley Football Conference game that begins in late February. The conference season and post season of FCS were postponed to spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early interception leads to UCA points
Tailback Jeremiah Wilson made his return from an ACL tear in November in the second play of the game by taking the ball 14 yards for a first down. On the next action, starting quarterback Jaden Johnson threw a deep pass in double cover and was intercepted by Central Arkansas’ Cameron Godfrey and returned to the MSU 42.
After allowing a first down on the drive’s first move, Central Arkansas was unable to progress and had to settle for a 47-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Missouri State’s offense continued to struggle during early downs, just like in the previous two games that set up third-and-long situations. Wilson also rumbled during the first quarter.
However, the MSU defense did its part by forcing Central Arkansas to step twice on or near MSU territory. UCA also turned the ball over after downs on the MSU 34.
The state of Missouri is in the lead
Wilson sparked the Bears’ attack when he was smashed away for a 29-yard gain while finishing the first quarter with 73 rushing yards. The run was followed by a 29-yard Johnson connection with Damoriea Vick to put MSU on UCA 1 on the last game of the first quarter.
Keshun Parker finished the Missouri State run with a one-meter touchdown run to give himself a 7-3 lead for four seconds in the second quarter.
After forcing Central Arkansas to kick his next ride, tailback Kevon Latulas continued to be a big player for MSU.
Latulas got to the edge and broke a few tackles with a pair of nasty stiff arms on a 63 yards touchdown run. The score gave MSU a 14-3 lead with 13:10 over in the half.
Missouri state defenses continued to dominate, with both the secondary and defense lines contributing. In the third row in a row, MSU fired UCA quarterback Breylin Smith.
Turnover leads UCA back into the game
After a few scoring drives, the Missouri State offense put Central Arkansas back into play on the opening game of the subsequent drive. A misguided Johnson throw to the outside was jumped and returned 35 yards for a touchdown, while 11:24 was left in the second quarter to bring MSU’s lead back to 14-10.
On the first action of MSU’s next drive, Johnson appeared to be trying to keep the ball on an option, but he was knocked loose and dropped to the ground. Central Arkansas jumped on it at MSU 26 to create Missouri State’s fourth turnover of the first half.
Shortly after, Smith hit receiver Mitchell Perkinson on a slope and found the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown connection. The score gave Central Arkansas the second touchdown of MSU’s two turnovers in a two-minute period, while UCA also jumped to a 17-14 lead with 9:23 left in the half.
Jake Van Dyne replaces Jaden Johnson
Freshman quarterback Jake Van Dyne replaced Johnson to start the next stage after Johnson was responsible for three sales in the first half.
Van Dyne handed the ball out a few times as he took over from MSU while Johnson stood behind the coaches with his helmet on. Van Dyne got MSU on UCA territory after escaping the pressure and hitting Lorenzo Thomas for a 16-yard win.
Later in the ride, the young quarterback faced a third-and-11, and he hit Thomas for a 27-yard completion in a small window to move MSU to the nine-meter UCA line. At the next play, Wilson gave MSU back the lead with a 30-foot touchdown run with 4:13 left in the half.
After forcing a three-and-out, Van Dyne took the field for his second drive. He made multiple completes of 15 yards or more on the run to push MSU into the field, ending with a 19 yards pass to Jordan Murray to put MSU on UCA nine with less than a minute left in half.
Van Dyne dropped into second place and Petrino chose to drop the clock back to three seconds to use his last time-out. Jose Pizano knocked in a 30-yard field goal to give MSU a 24-17 lead at the break.
Central Arkansas is climbing back in
Central Arkansas had one of its best offensive rides of the night when it hit 32 yards across the field after MSU kicked the ball out of bounds to start the half. MSU linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua got away with a third-down sack that forced UCA to hit a 37-yard field goal to cut MSU’s lead to four.
Van Dyne got nothing on MSU’s next stage. A short kick put Central Arkansas back in a good field position, but it couldn’t get into the end zone. A 43-yard field goal cut the Missouri state lead to one in the middle of the third quarter.
Central Arkansas is moving forward
Central Arkansas held MSU to a three-and-out on Van Dyne’s next stage. On the kick, UCA pretended to be a kick-returner receiving the ball, while most players ran to one side of the field while UCA received the ball on the other. Cameron Godfrey returned the ball 57 yards into MSU’s 10.
The Missouri state defense again got away with another large grandstand as it stopped Central Arkansas from scoring a touchdown. UCA kicked a short field goal and took a 26-24 lead with 4:13 over in the third.
On MSU’s next ride, it kept shooting itself in the foot. After Van Dyne bought time and made a good pitch to take a first to third down conversion, he was picked up on his next pitch.
Two plays later, UCA receiver Tyler Wilson got MSU to bite with a double move. Wilson was wide open and Smith hit him for a 42-meter touchdown when UCA took a 33-24 lead with 59 seconds over in the third.
Van Dyne’s night is coming to an end
Van Dyne’s night came to an end on MSU’s next possession when he tried to force a pass to a group of receivers and defenders. Van Dyne was shocked by the play. Central Arkansas missed a field goal on the ensuing stage.
Johnson went three-and-out in his first run back, but was helped by a 75-yard punt from Grant Burkett to reverse field position. Central Arkansas quickly handed it back to MSU who took over in midfield with 8:51 to go.
Again, Missouri State went three-and-out, but Burkett pinned Central Arkansas into his own five. Central Arkansas shaved off the clock for a few minutes and kicked it back to midfield MSU with 4:18 left.
MSU hit the ball to UCA 34 and faced a fourth-and-five. A quarterback tie came up short to win, and MSU turned it around on downs.
Missouri State received the ball again with 1:20 to go, but couldn’t do anything with it, as it dropped to 0-3 to end the fall.
Missouri State will continue its campaign from 2020-21 on Feb. 20 in North Dakota during the first game of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The league postponed an eight-game conference season until spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can reach him at 417-371-6987, by email at[email protected]or Twitter on@WyattWheeler_NL. You can subscribe to this free newsletter “Bears Beat” at News-Leader.com. He also co-hosts Sports Talk on Jock Radio during the week from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
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