by Lucas Treat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Springfield, Mo. - Missouri State scored 17 unanswered points in the final six minutes including a 33-yard field goal by Austin Witmer as time expired to beat South Dakota 27-24 Saturday at Plaster Field. It was the first win of the season for the Bears (1-6, 1-3 MVFC) while the Coyotes (1-5, 0-3) dropped their fourth game in a row.
Missouri State had 10 points and 164 yards of offense before Bears quarterback Kierra Harris threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Julian Burton that cut the lead to 21-14 with 5:27 remaining. Missouri State had stopped South Dakota on 44th-and-1 the play before.
A Coyote fumble – the game's only turnover – gave Missouri State the ball back with three minutes left. Harris hit Eric Christophel with a 25-yard strike across the middle four plays later that tied the game at 24-24 with 1:45 remaining.
An Anthony Grady sack of Coyote quarterback Josh Vander Maten helped lead to a USD punt, which Burton returned 30 yards to the South Dakota 42 with 53 seconds left. A first down and a defensive pass interference penalty helped push the ball inside the 20 to set up Witmer's game-winning kick.
The Bears hadn't scored a fourth-quarter point in their first six games of the season before rallying against South Dakota. Harris threw for 214 yards and two scores on 20-of-33 passing.
South Dakota's offense controlled the ball for more than 22 minutes in the first half and racked up 265 yards to take a 21-3 lead into halftime. Vander Maten and Marcus Sims combined for 146 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the half. Sims finished with 108 yards on 23 carries. Vander Maten finished with 73 yards despite being sacked five times.
The Coyotes mustered 110 yards on six second-half drives. A 44-yard field goal by Kevin Robb made it 24-10 with 3:20 left in the third quarter. South Dakota got five first downs the rest of the way.