Western Courier

Necks storm back against Bears

Steve+McShane+bounces+a+carry+to+the+right+side+during+a+win+against+Missouri+State+Saturday+afternoon.+McShane+finished+the+day+with+155+yards+rushing+and+a+touchdown.+
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Necks storm back against Bears

Steve McShane bounces a carry to the right side during a win against Missouri State Saturday afternoon. McShane finished the day with 155 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Steve McShane bounces a carry to the right side during a win against Missouri State Saturday afternoon. McShane finished the day with 155 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Angel Strack / photo editor

Steve McShane bounces a carry to the right side during a win against Missouri State Saturday afternoon. McShane finished the day with 155 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Angel Strack / photo editor

Angel Strack / photo editor

Steve McShane bounces a carry to the right side during a win against Missouri State Saturday afternoon. McShane finished the day with 155 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Devon Greene, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Western Illinois University football team took on The Missouri State University Bears on Saturday and came out on top with a 49-30 win after a tumultuous day on Hanson Field.

The Bears took the first possession of the day and capitalized early with a seven-play, 93-yard drive. It was apparent early that senior wide receiver Malik

Earl was on the way to a big day. Earl recorded two catches for 39 yards on the opening drive. However, senior running back Calan Crowder put Missouri State on the board with a 38-yard rushing touchdown.

Western responded quickly and found the run game that they’ve been missing all season. Junior running back Steve McShane had not had a 100-yard rushing game all season before Saturday’s matchup against the Bears. McShane was expecting to get plenty of carries on a day where the weather threatened to rain all game.

“All week, we were talking about how it was supposed to rain,” McShane said. “And we were all ready to run the ball against Missouri State who average over 200 yards a game. We knew what we had to do.”

McShane and sophomore running back Max Norris combined for four carries on the opening drive and racked up 27 yards. The running game proved to be essential in opening up the playbook for the offense. Junior quarterback Sean McGuire found junior tight end Adam Conrady wide open off a play action play for a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the game up in the first quarter.

After a punt on the Bear’s next drive, Western’s offense also stalled, resulting in an attempted punt from Adam Fellner from the Western 24-yard line. Redshirt freshman wide-receiver Rickey Nichols went untouched on the punt attempt, blocked the kick and returned it for a touchdown.

Western has faced mobile quarterbacks all year against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, the University of South Dakota Coyotes and again against the Bears. Sophomore quarterback Peyton Huslig gave the Leatherneck defense problems over the entire game with option plays and scrambles.

The Bears offense utilized quick passes and screen plays often to get the ball to their star receiver, Earl. Missouri State showed their creativity on offense with a double reverse that placed the ball in Earl’s hands and left him wide open for a 30-yard touchdown run, giving the Bears a 21-7 lead over the Leathernecks.

The Leathernecks have found themselves fighting back from large deficits in the past three weeks, and they have been able to find their groove with their backs against the wall. McShane and McGuire both have theories on why they have been able to thrive under pressure.

“I never doubt my team and in big situations like that we know we have to finish, I never doubt them and we know we have to finish.” McShane said. “Honestly, to me, I think we like pressure and we like being in those situations and we know we can come through. It’s just part of the game.”

McGuire praised the experience of the Leatherneck team as they continue to fight back from deficits in hostile and home environments.

“We’ve been in that situation a couple of weeks now and there’s never a need to panic when that happens,” McGuire said. “We’re comfortable in every situation and I feel we’ve been in every situation you can be, in football.”

Western began to fight back from their 14-point hole on their next drive as Norris broke off a big run for a 29-yard touchdown. Sophomore kicker Sam Crosa was unable to make the extra point and left the Leathernecks down 8
at halftime.

Western came out of halftime firing on all cylinders. McShane started off the Leatherneck drive with an 11-yard rush. McGuire then found redshirt freshman running back Clint Ratkovich with a 21-yard pass to advance into Bears territory.

McGuire and junior wide receiver Isaiah LeSure finished off the yard with a 43-yard deep pass in the end zone. LeSure also caught the two-point conversion pass to tie up the game at 21 in the third quarter.

The Bears recorded a field goal on their next drive and gave them a three point lead before Western’s next drive. The Leatherneck running game continued to reward the offense as senior receiver Jaelon Acklin decided to get involved with the running game. Acklin ran a reverse and was able to squeeze past the Bears’ secondary for a 61-touchdown for the final score of the third quarter, placing the Leathernecks up 28-24.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Necks storm back against Bears