The wet pigskin proved hard to hold onto for the Redbirds as they turned the ball over five times in the second half, which lead to a 37-10 loss to Missouri State on a rainy Saturday in Springfield, Mo.
After a win against Abilene Christian in the home opener last week, ISU could not keep the momentum going on the road against MSU in its first game of MVFC action and fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
Starting quarterback Blake Winkler turned the ball over four times with three fumbles and one interception. He finished 14-for-28 for 168 yards with no touchdowns.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win because of turnovers in the second half,” ISU head coach Brock Spack said to WJBC following the game. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong.”
The Bears were the first to get on the board by driving 80 yards on 12 plays. A three-yard touchdown pass from Kierra Harris to Matt Swan and a successful extra point kick by Marcelo Bonani put MSU up 7-0 with 4:42 left in the first.
After a 74-yard drive, the Redbirds settled for a Nick Aussieker 22-yard field goal to put the score 7-3, Bears over ’Birds.
Following a Tevin Allen fumble recovery, Collin Keoshian went over Bear defenders for his fifth touchdown of the season, which put the ’Birds up for the first time of the game, 10-7, after a successful extra point attempt by Aussieker. This would be the Redbird’s final score of the game.
Missouri State struck back with a 72-yard pass from Harris to Dorian Buford and successful PAT, putting the Bears up 14-10 with 2:23 remaining in the first half.
Both ISU and MSU failed to score on their final drives of the first half.
The Redbirds started off the second half having problems holding onto the ball.
At one stretch in the third quarter, ISU turned the ball over three times in four possessions.
Harris ran for a three-yard touchdown and Bonani kicked a 22-yard field goal in the third for MSU to increase its lead 24-10.
The fourth quarter didn’t start off any better for Winkler and the Redbirds.
On ISU’s first drive of the quarter, Winkler threw the ball for an interception — his fourth turnover of the game.
Missouri State’s Brandon Cheaton returned the interception 43-yards to the ISU 25-yard line. Phoenix Johnson rushed for the first touchdown of his career to put the Bears up 31-10 with 9:32 remaining in the game.
Jarred Barnett took over for Winkler on the next possession and threw an interception to MSU’s Caleb Schaffitzel on his first — and only — snap of the game.
After one offensive possession on the ISU sideline, Winkler came back in the game for the Redbirds’ last two drives of the game and failed to score.
The Bears tacked on one more touchdown. After a failed PAT, the score stood at 37-10.
“I thought their [MSU] defense was really good coming into the game — and it was,” Spack said. “They’re going to give a lot of people problems. They’re going to be in every game that they play. They have been up until now — and that is because their defense is so good.”
The Redbird’s will try to get back on track against Western Illinois Saturday in Normal.