WIU Football Falls Vs. Missouri State in Opener

Zach Zannelli, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks Football lost in a close game by a score of 30-24 to the Missouri State Bears. Missouri State came on board first in the first quarter when Celdon Manning ran for five yards for a touchdown to give Missouri state the 7-0 lead. Missouri State scored again three minutes later as Jeremiah Wilson ran for 11 yards to give Missouri State the 14-0 lead. Western Illinois responded quickly in the second quarter as Connor Sampson threw a 6-yard pass to Dennis Houston. Missouri State would go into field goal range on their next drive, but Western Illinois scored a touchdown defensively as Greg Benton Jr. recovered a fumble and scored for 75 yards down the field to tie the game at 14. With three seconds left in the half, Mason Laramie hit a 45-yard field goal as the Leathernecks took the lead for the first time going into the half. Western Illinois scored 17 points in the second quarter. Missouri State got the ball to start the second half and score a field goal on their first drive as Jose Pizano hit a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 17. Jose Pizano started it off again in the fourth quarter as he hit a 43-yard field goal to give Missouri State a 20-17 lead. As time got closer to zero with 7:56 left in the fourth, Western Illinois got a great drive down the field as Tony Tate ran for two yards for the touchdown to give Western its biggest lead at 24-20. Missouri State did not quit as Isaac Smith received a two-yard pass from Jaden Johnson as the Bears took the 27-24 lead. Western Illinois still had time remaining on the clock, but Sampson threw an interception that gave Missouri State the ball and were in field goal range. Jose Pizano kicked a 33-yard field goal which gave the Bears a 30-24 lead with three minutes remaining in the game. Sampson got pass completions to Dallas Daniels, Tate and Iosefa Pua’Auli. He, later that drive, left the game with an injury after a hard hit. Henry Ogala stepped in to take Sampson’s spot. Ogala was later sacked and fumble the football as it was recovered by the Bears to give them the opportunity to take the QB knee as Missouri State took the victory over the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks by a final score of 30-24. 

Western Illinois players of the game include Sampson, who threw 34 complete passes in 46 attempts for 281 yards, throwing for one touchdown. Running backs include Deshaun Gavin ran for 22 yards with six carries. Receivers include Houston, who had nine receptions with a total of 71 yards and getting a receiving touchdown. Tate received six passes going for 69 yards and got 87 yards on kick returns and Dallas Daniels received six passes going for 47 yards. Western Illinois players on defense include Greg Benton Jr., who recovered two fumbles with one of them being returned for a touchdown. Justin Nutof intercepted a pass with a 10-yard return and Braylen Brooks also intercepted a pass with a three-yard return. Shannon Hall got a sack for a loss of eight yards and CJ Hunt with a sack for a loss of four yards. 

Missouri State players of the game include Jaden Johnson, who threw 18 complete passes in 28 attempts for 278 yards, throwing for one touchdown. Running backs include Celdon Manning ran for 69 yards with 16 carries getting a touchdown, Jeremiah Wilson ran for 54 yards with 10 carries getting a touchdown and Jaden Johnson getting 39 yards on 14 carries. Receivers include Damoriea Vick, who received six passes getting 138 yards, Isaac Smith receiving two passes getting 48 yards getting a touchdown, and Jordan Murphy receiving two passes getting 39 yards. Missouri State players on defense include Kyriq Mcdonald, who recovered a fumble returned for 17 yards and Eric Johnson recovered a fumble at the end of the game to win the game. Kevin Ellis and Montrae Braswell both intercepted passes with Ellis returning for 30 yards and Braswell with no return. Ellis also had a sack in the game for Missouri State. 

Western Illinois will play South Dakota State next weekend on March 6 at 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium while Missouri State will take on North Dakota State next weekend on March 6 at 2 p.m. at Plaster Stadium.