Western Illinois defensive back Jalen McKie tackles Missouri State running back Jacardia Wright in the open field Saturday. (Photo by MissouriStateBears.com)
By Barry Bottino
A week ago, Western Illinois led for the first time in a game this season.
On Saturday, the Leathernecks fell victim to a powerful Missouri State offense as the Bears ran away for a 64-14 Missouri Valley Football Conference victory. MSU scored on its first 10 possessions to pile up their most points in a game since 1992.
Western (0-8 overall, 0-5 MVFC) lost its 10th consecutive game dating back to last season and fell behind 17-0 after one quarter and 45-7 at halftime.
The Leathernecks gave up 597 total yards on the day and the most points in a game since losing 69-0 to Missouri on Sept. 17, 2011.
Missouri State improved to 3-5 and won its first MVFC game of the season in five tries.
Western scored its first touchdown early in the second quarter on a fake field goal, when holder Jack Beulke threw an 8-yard touchdown to tight end Nathan Karsjens.
Missouri State scored 38 unanswered points before Western quarterback Clay Bruno threw a 48-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Naseim Brantley to make the score 58-14.
8:07, 1st quarter: Missouri State QB Jason Shelley connected on a 54-yard deep pass to Raylen Sharpe to move the ball to WIU’s 14. The Bears scored three plays later for a 10-0 lead.
0:15, 2nd quarter: With WIU near midfield, Bruno threw an interception. Two plays later, the Bears scored on a 25-yard TD pass to take a 45-7 halftime lead.
2:38, 3rd quarter: Jose Pizano’s 25-yard field goal marked the 10th consecutive drive that Missouri State scored points to open the game.
What it means
Any momentum the Leathernecks gained from last week’s 28-27 home loss to Youngstown was vanquished in the opening half.
Prairie State Pigskin chooses the top three Leatherneck players in the game:
Brantley: One of the nation’s leaders in touchdown catches and yards per game, the graduate student caught a game-high six passes for 120 yards and a TD.
Juan DelaCruz, LB: The junior linebacker had a career-high 11 tackles for Western.
Cole Watts, DL: Among his five tackles, the graduate student had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
The Leathernecks host defending national champion North Dakota State at 1 p.m. on Nov. 5.