SPRINGFIELD – As with most preseason scrimmages, there was both good and bad to be taken from Plaster Field on Saturday morning (Aug. 18) when the Missouri State Bears conducted their second intrasquad football match-up.
During the team’s final workout of fall camp, the offense rolled up 544 yards on 115 official plays, the defense forced four turnovers, but it was the penalties that got the attention of the head coach.
“Last week we ran 121 plays and had 4 penalties,” said Terry Allen. “I think today we had 4 penalties in the first 20 plays and 16 total for the scrimmage. You can’t win football games with that many penalties.”
Highlighting the morning session were junior Mikael Cooper-Falls with three touchdowns, Dorian Buford with 90 receiving yards, and Kierra Harris with 261 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Cooper-Falls scored the first two touchdowns of the day, first on a 24-yard pass from Harris, and later on a one-yard run. Toward the end of the scrimmage, the Springfield native punched one in from five yards out. He finished with an efficient 4 carries for 7 yards on the ground and 31 total yards.
Harris completed his first 5 pass attempts before being intercepted. But the more snaps he got, the more confidence he seemed to get. Harris connected on 9 of his last 12 passes for 106 yards, including a 60-yard strike to Dorian Buford for a touchdown.
Buford, a junior who started three games a year ago, finished with team highs with 7 catches for 90 yards. Newcomer Tre Kelley (66 yards) and tight end Matt Thayer (49 yards) were next with 6 receptions apiece.
Allen said taking the good with the bad is part of the preseason, but learning from mistakes is part of the process of becoming a better football team.
“We had some really good learning experiences out there,” said Allen. “That’s what we strive for.”
Sophomore safeties Mike Crutcher and Caleb Schaffitzel each recorded interceptions, along with junior Howard Scarborough who had two of the defense’s five break-ups. Jonathan Walker also had a 37-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the scrimmage, and there were a pair of blocked kicks.
The Bears will have Sunday off to recover and begin preparing for the fall semester, which begins Monday at MSU. The team will have two weeks to begin preparing for its Sept. 1 season opener at Kansas State, beginning with an afternoon practice Monday at Plaster Field.