SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A 17-0 second half for Missouri State allowed the 18th-ranked Bears to rally past the visiting University of South Dakota Saturday in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener, as Missouri State won 31-23 over the Coyotes.
Powered by a Wesley Eliodor 99-yard kickoff return touchdown just before halftime, South Dakota led the game 23-14 at intermission but could not muster any more scoring in the second half, when USD had just three first downs. Trailing by eight with less than 4 minutes remaining, USD quarterback Carson Camp hit Carter Bell for a 65-yard pass that set up a first-and-goal for the Coyotes, but USD came up empty on the next four plays.
On the next possession, after USD thought it had forced a fumble inside the Bears' own 20, Myles Harden forced a fumble and recovered it with 1:20 left to give the Coyotes another chance. Nate Thomas rushed for 39 yards over the next two plays to get the ball to the Missouri State 9-yard line with 46 seconds remaining. But Camp's pass two plays later was intercepted by Montrae Braswell, ending USD's hopes for the road win.
Missouri State (2-1, 1-0 Valley) had four total touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) from Jason Shelley, with 281 passing yards and 62 rushing yards.
For USD, Camp had 231 yards passing and a touchdown but two interceptions in the fourth quarter and was sacked five times. Thomas rushed for 60 yards to lead the Coyotes, who also had 102 yards receiving from Bell and 71 yards on three catches and a touchdown from Kody Case. Paired with an opening touchdown from running back Travis Theis, Case's touchdown put the Coyotes up 14-0 in the first 6 minutes of the game.
The Coyotes (2-2, 0-1 Valley) will host Indiana State on Oct. 2 for Dakota Days in Vermillion.