TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State junior running back Shakir Bell moved up to third on the Sycamore all-time rushing yardage list as Indiana State successfully defended their home field and picked up a Homecoming victory with a 31-17 win over Missouri State at Memorial Stadium Saturday.
The win moves Indiana State to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while Missouri State falls to 0-6 overall and 0-3 in the MVFC. The win was the third straight Sycamore victory over the Bears, its longest over a league opponent since taking nine in a row versus Southern Illinois from 1994-2002.
Bell rushed for 113 yards in the game to give him 3,256 for his career, surpassing Derrick Franklin who rushed for 3,231 yards (1989-1991). The Sycamore junior also scored a touchdown in the game, his eighth of the season and 24th of his Indiana State career.
The Sycamores won for the fourth consecutive season on Homecoming -- the program's longest such streak of victories in front of the alums since 1975-78. ISU is now 3-1 against Missouri State in Homecoming contests and improved to 47-35-2 all-time on Homecoming.
Mike Perish was 11-of-24 in passing for 127 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Michael Mardis had three receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown while Demory Lawshe had two catches for 38 yards and one touchdown.
Aaron Archie led the Sycamore defense with 15 tackles (six solos) while Jacolby Washington had 11 tackles (four solo).
Missouri State put the first points on the scoreboard when quarterback Ashton Glaser busted through the Sycamore defense on a one yard run with 5:38 left in the opening quarter. Austin Witmer booted the point after for a 7-0 Bears lead.
The Sycamores evened the score on the ensuing kickoff when Tanner Riley took the Bears kickoff at the Indiana State seven, found an opening in the middle of the field and raced untouched 93 yards for the touchdown with 5:27 left. Tanner Fritschie added the point after to tie the game at seven-all. It was ISU's first kickoff return for a touchdown since last year when Leonard Riston went 92 yards to pay dirt versus Butler.
The Sycamores received a big break on the Bears next possession. Missouri State's Vernon Scott broke around the right side of the Sycamore defense for a 25 yard gain but fumbled the ball with Indiana State's Johnny Towalid recovering at the Sycamore 43. Six plays later, Perish connected with Lawshe to complete a 26-yard scoring strike and put Indiana State on top for the first time in the game with 2:16 left in the opening quarter. Fritschle added the point after to put Indiana State up 14-7.
Neither team could dent the goal line in the second quarter.
Missouri State held the Sycamores on their first possession of the second half and forced Indiana State to punt which was tipped by the Bears Matt Swan and went out of bounds at the Indiana State 42. Missouri State was only able to advance to the Indiana State 21 where the Sycamore defense stiffened and the Bears had to settle for a 38-yard Witmer field goal with 8:18 left which cut the Indiana State lead to 14-10.
The Bears moved back in front on their next possession, driving 56 yards in five plays with Kierra Harris connecting on a two-yard scoring strike to Matt Thayer for the touchdown with 4:53 left in the third. Witmer booted the point after for a 17-14 Missouri State lead.
That seemed to ignite the Sycamores who came right back, marching 75 yards in six plays to score on 16-yard pass from Perish to Mardis with 1:23 left in the third. Fritschle added the point after as Indiana State was back on top for good at 21-17. Mardis had a big play that kept that drive early in the possession with a 31-yard completion that gave Indiana State a first down at the Bears 38.
Indiana State extended their lead with their first possession of the fourth quarter, capping a nine-play 69-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown run by Bell with 9:23 left in the game. Fritschle added the point after as the Sycamores moved out to a 28-17 advantage.
The Sycamores added a 26-yard Fritschle field goal with 2:22 left to push their advantage to 31-17.
Indiana State will be on the road next week as they visit top ranked North Dakota State in a 4 p.m. (ET) start. North Dakota State defeated Youngstown State 48-7 Saturday to improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the MVFC.