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Missouri Valley Football Week 4 Recap

This was a bad week to score first. In three of the four MVFC games this week, the team that jumped out to a double-digit lead early on went on to lose the game. Since none of these games started at the same time, it was kind of fun to watch this happen repeatedly over the course of the day. Fun for a neutral that is, as my alma mater UNI had the week off. It was probably not fun for the fanbases who had their hopes lifted just to have the rug pulled from under them. In other news, I predicted the winner of each game correctly (and was close on most of the scores too). I am now 33-1 picking MVFC games this year. If I am not a gambling man, but I kind of wish I were right now.

With that said, here is a look at what happened in week 4.

-#2 South Dakota State 44, Indiana State 0

So yeah, South Dakota State is good. Indiana State had a solid nonconference, winning close ones with Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky and hanging with the Big Ten's Northwestern. But the Sycamores had NO chance in this one. The Jackrabbits jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead and held a 34-0 edge at halftime. From there, they never looked back. Their 44-0 final margin of victory was substantially better than my 37-16 prediction. This was, in many ways, a coming out party for QB Chris Oladokun. The Jackrabbit was 12-21 for 216 yards and three touchdowns with no picks. Pierre Strong was a star for the Jacks as well. The running back ran for 150 yards on 20 carries and added a touchdown pass to Oladokun on a trick play in the opening drive. After their opening score, SDSU was kept off the board momentarily as they were forced to punt and then missed a field goal on their next two drives. But they rebounded to score on each of their next five opportunities. Meanwhile, Indiana State's first half drives ended in five punts, two turnovers on downs and a pick, leading to the 34-0 margin at the break. The Jacks cruised from there (Keaton Heide checked in with a 3-3 passing day) and added two more scores in the second half. Kurtis Wilderman started under center for the Trees and was an ineffective 9-22 for 89 yards and an interception. Anthony Thompson spelled him but was just 5-6 for 59 yards. Peterson Kerlegrand was once again the star for ISU, running for 76 yards on 21 carries. In all, SDSU outgained the trees 516-226 and dominated the contest from start to end. The Jackrabbits will host a nonconference game against Dixie State next week, while Indiana State will go to Vermillion to face South Dakota.

-#8 Southern Illinois 35, Illinois State 17 I was pretty confident in myself when I said I had SIU "rolling" to a 31-13 win over Illinois State. For a good long while, Illinois State was making me look pretty dumb. Fortunately for the Salukis (and my confidence), this was the first of three MVFC games this week that turned on a dime. The Illinois State defense really kept SIU in check in the first half as they went into the break with a 10-0 advantage. The Salukis had a total of 75 yards on seven first half drives, the first six of which ended in punts (the last ending in an interception). Illinois State was held in check for much of the half as well, punting on five of their first six drives and kicking a field goal on a zero-yard drive in the other to take a 3-0 lead late into the half. Finally, the Redbirds broke through as they put together an 11-play, 74-yard TD drive to end the half. Illinois State then opened the second half with another TD drive in which Jackson Waring threw two long passes to put the ‘Birds in position. An upset special seemed to be in the making as the ISU led 17-0. Then, SIU flipped a switch. After a big kickoff return, Southern Illinois drove 45 yards to paydirt to get on the board. The drive was capped by a 7-yard TD pass from Nic Baker to Landon Lenoir on third down. After a nice Illinois State drive of 69 yards down to the SIU 6-yard line was stopped on 4th and 1, the Salukis proceeded to drive 94 yards for another score to make it 17-14. SIU converted three third downs on the drive, including a 40-yard TD run by Donnavan Spencer. Southern Illinois turned it over on their next possession, but the defense held strong as it did for most of the 2nd half and gave SIU another chance. They responded with a 6-play 75-yard drive to take a 21-17 lead. The Salukis ended up scoring on their next two possessions as well, giving them five TDs over their final six drives. Meanwhile, Illinois State's final six drives included three turnovers on downs, two punts and a fumble. The final margin was 35-17 to SIU, which ended up not terribly far off from my 31-13 prediction. SIU outgained the 'Birds 371-318 and had two turnovers to ISU’s one. Nic Baker recovered from a sloppy first half to finish 21-32 for 227 yads and two TDs (with two picks). Donnavan Spencer had a nice 69-yard day with ten carries on the ground and a TD. While not a world beater, Jackson Waring was more of a threat through the air than Bryce Jefferson had been, going 13-24 for 166 yards. Cole Mueller had 87 yards on 14 carries for ISU. Illinois State hosts Missouri State next week, while SIU goes to Western Illinois.

-Western Illinois 38, Youngstown State 35 It was a great day to be a Leatherneck. Unless you are a Youngstown fan, you had to be happy for the guys from Macomb who pulled off just their third victory in three seasons. You just had a feeling after Western Illinois played so well offensively last week that they would have a chance in this one. I did, at least, as I had them winning a shootout 45-42. I nearly nailed it but was off by a touchdown on both counts. It didn't look good early on for WIU. After trading TDs on their respective opening drives the Youngstown defense held WIU in check while the Penguins scored three more times to take a 28-7 lead. At this point Youngstown had amassed 251 yards midway through the second quarter. QB Demetric Crenshaw and RB Jaleel McLaughlin were both scored a pair of TDs on the ground in building the 28-7 lead. McLaughlin added another one before halftime to push Youngstown's lead to a remarkable 35-7. Then their offense just, like, stopped. WIU drove down and scored a 7-yard TD on the final play of the half to make it 35-14. It was still (presumably) a comfortable lead for YSU. The third quarter was an entirely different story. WIU drove 75 yards in 5 minutes to open the half with a 12-yard score thrown by wide receiver Tony Tate to make it 35-21. After a quick YSU interception, Connor Sampson threw a TD pass three plays later and suddenly SIU was within 7 at 35-28. After an exchange of punts, the Leathernecks tied it up on a 67-yard drive capped by a TD pass from Sampson to Dennis Houston. Relative to the rest of the game, the fourth quarter was a bit of a dud. Suddenly neither team could move the ball worth squat. YSU punted the ball three times and turned it over on downs while WIU punted twice and threw a pick. The game turned when YSU went for it on 4th and 1 from their own 36 with less than two minutes to go. They were stopped cold, which set up WIU to drive the ball to the two-yard line. There, they hit a chip shot field goal to win the game, 38-35. Connor Sampson was a stud once again (I would love to see what he could do with a stronger supporting cast). He was 33-48 for 316 yards, 4 TDs and a pick. Western was only able to put up 72 rushing yards and once again relied heavily on Sampson (and Dennis Houston who had 9 receptions for 110 yards and a score). Conversely, YSU got little from their passing game. Demeatric Crenshaw was just 13-22 for 76 yards and a pick. But the QB had 134 yards on the ground and two scores. Jaleel McLaughlin bettered him, though, with 136 yards and three scores. Overall Western outgained the Penguins 400-374. WIU won through the air 328-76, while Youngstown dominated the ground 298-72. The Leathernecks host SIU next week, while Youngstown will play at the UNI-Dome against UNI.

-#18 Missouri State 31, South Dakota 23 For the third week in a row, the South Dakota Coyotes got off to an outstanding start. Unfortunately for them, this time, that start did not carry into the rest of the game. After the Coyotes’ opening drive stalled, MSU muffed the ensuing punt and the South Dakota capitalized with an eight-yard TD run from Travis Theis. Missouri State fumbled on their ensuing possession, and the Yotes QB Carson Camp found Kody Case for a 21-yard score. USD led 14-0 just over five minutes into the game. Missouri State responded on their next possession as Jason Shelly orchestrated a 7 play, 75-yard drive almost on his own. He capped it with a 26-yard run to cut the Coyote lead to 14-7. The teams exchanged punts until USD drove deep into MSU territory. They had a second and goal from the one but couldn’t get into the end zone as three straight run plays failed to cross the plane. On their next drive, the Coyotes’ Shamari Lawrence fumbled, setting up MSU for their second score (46 yards Shelley to Scott) to tie it at 14. South Dakota’s Wesley Eliodor returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to paydirt to reclaim the lead at 20-14 (the extra point was blocked). South Dakota got the ball with one minute to go in the half and ended up driving 66 yards for a field goal as time expired to take a 23-14 lead. Things flipped in the second half as USD was only was able to get three first downs in the half and the Bear defense tightened up. MSU kicked a field goal on their first drive of the second half to get within six. After a USD punt, MSU drove into the Coyote red zone but lost the ball on a fumble. After another USD punt, Shelly orchestrated another impressive drive, leading MSU to the end zone on a 3-yard pass to Kevon Latulas to give MSU their first lead, 24-23. The teams exchanged punts again, and then the Bears intercepted Camp in USD territory. They capitalized with Jason Shelley’s fourth TD of the game (this time on a 12-yard run) to increase their lead to 31-23. A sixty-five yard pass from Carson Camp to Carter Bell gave USD the ball deep in MSU territory late in the fourth quarter, but once again they couldn’t convert. All seemed lost for South Dakota, but an MSU fumble with 1:31 to go gave USD life. They started the drive at midfield and moved into the red zone, but for the third time in the game they couldn’t convert from inside the Bear 10. An interception in the end zone with 41 seconds to go put the game on ice. In my preview I had the Bears winning 27-24 with Jason Shelley as the difference. The score was not exactly right, but Jason Shelley was certainly the difference. The Bears’ QB completed 19-29 passes for 281 yards and 2 TDs without throwing a pick. He was also the Bears’ leading rusher with 62 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Carson Camp was a pedestrian 12-29 for 231 yards, a TD and two picks for USD. Five Coyotes combined for 130 yards on the ground. Overall, the Bears outgained the Yotes 439-361. South Dakota will host Indiana State next week while Missouri State will be at Illinois State.

That is all for MVFC action this week, but here is a look at some notable finishes from around the FCS.

-Virginia Tech 21, #24 Richmond 10: The Spiders hung tough, trailing just 14-10 in the third quarter, but they couldn’t get over the hump.

-Incarnate Word 31, McNeese State 0: UIW has emerged as the top challenger to SELA in the Southland.

-Davidson 28, San Diego 16: The Wildcats have the inside track to the Pioneer League title. San Diego is now 0-4!

-Miami (FL) 69, Central Connecticut 0: Nice

-Holy Cross 45, #20 Monmouth 15: Holy Cross continues its odd season and puts a dent in the Big South’s at-large hopes.

-St. Thomas 36, Butler 0: The Tommies’ first DI win ever.

-Dayton 63, Presbyterian 43: I love the Blue Hose, I really do. They outgained Dayton 568-484 but lost due to their 2-8 4th down efficiency, 3-15 3rd down efficiency and three turnovers.

-#22 VMI 31, Wofford 23: The Keydets quieted some of the doubts about their legitimacy as contenders in the SoCon. But only some.

-Mercer 24, Furman 3: Mercer is looking like a contender in the SoCon. Not only did they avoid getting totally embarrassed by Alabama, but they handled a good Furman team this week.

-Eastern Kentucky 35, #19 Austin Peay 27: A week after losing to Indiana State, the Colonels beat a ranked Austin Peay team. Seems unlikely the OVC will get multiple bids at this point.

-#15 East Tennessee State 55, Samford 48 (OT): The SoCon favorites almost had a disastrous first week of league play.

-Tennessee-Martin 34, #9 Jacksonville State 31: Welp, JSU’s crazy season continues. What is the deal with these guys?

-#1 Sam Houston State 45, #25 Central Arkansas 35: UCA had to claw its way back from down 28-7, got within 6 with the ball, then fell behind by double digits again. The Bears are a good team, but they are 1-3. They may need to run the table to make the playoffs at this point.

-East Carolina 31, Charleston Southern 28: A late TD made this game between the Big South’s Charleston Southern and the AAC’s East Carolina very interesting, but Chuck couldn’t quite make it happen.

-#12 UC-Davis 17, #14 Weber State 14: The Wildcats haven’t played badly, but at 1-3 with Montana State and EWU still on the schedule they may be in trouble playoff wise.

That is all for today. I'll be back later in the week for a primer for week 5. Until then, GO VALLEY!

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