Just like that, 19 Bears played their last game in maroon and white.
The Missouri State football Bears dropped their final game of the season 51-24 to Indiana State. Same story, different game. Missouri State’s defense continued to give up big plays while the offense was too slow at the start.
Missouri State’s late comeback attempts in the last four games have been just that — too late to be productive.
Indiana State jumped on the board first with a wide-open 19-yard touchdown pass.
To start the second quarter, Sycamore quarterback Kurtis Wilderman completed a 70-yard pass to a wide-open receiver downfield to the 1-yard line. The Sycamores ran it in for their second score of the game, giving them a 14-0 lead with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half.
Missouri State found momentum after senior Kendall Stewart ran for 23 yards deep into ISU territory. Huslig connected with sophomore tight end Jordan Murray for the 4-yard score.
The momentum came to a halt as Indiana State made a path of broken tackles for Dante Hendrix to take a 70-yard punt return to the house. The Sycamores extended their lead 21-7 heading into halftime.
Missouri State led Indiana State in rushing yards with 81. The Bears have led at half in this statistic only three times this season — Northern Arizona and Illinois State were the other two games.
Indiana State wasted no time coming out of the half, tacking on a 57-yard touchdown run to its 21-point lead. Dominique Dafney carried the ball in for his third touchdown of the game.
The Bears made their way back into Sycamore territory for just the fifth time since kickoff. Redshirt sophomore Myron Mason made it count with a 6-yard carry into the end zone. Missouri State cut the deficit to 28-14.
Indiana State added on a field goal followed by another big play given up by the Bears. The Sycamores ran it in for a 49-yard touchdown to take a 38-14 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of action.
Missouri State tacked on a field goal of its own in a comeback attempt, still trailing 38-17. It didn’t help stop the bleeding because Dafney took one 41 yards to the house again.
Dafney ended the game with a career-best 244-yard game behind four rushing touchdowns, including his 19-yard touchdown catch from the first score of the game.
“We knew it was coming,” head coach Dave Steckel said. “We just did a really poor job of controlling our gaps, keeping leverage on the football and tackling.”
Huslig and the Bears kept fighting until the end, connecting with Murray again for six points. Once again, Dafney took one more to the house to give the Sycamores 325 total rushing yards on the day.
Missouri State honored 19 players on Senior Day, 12 two-time lettermen and seven three-time letterwinners.
Kam Carter, safety
Chandler Collins, long snapper
Aaron Denson, wide receiver
McNeece Egbim, linebacker
Angelo Garbutt, linebacker
J.T. Granato, quarterback
Austin Henderson, safety
Peyton Huslig, quarterback
Darius Joseph, cornerback
Matt McClellan, defensive end
Taiwo Oluwafunmila, defensive end
Matt Platko, offensive lineman
Kendall Stewart, wide receiver
Kylin Washington, defensive tackle
Brendon Winthrow, punter
Antwan Woods, wide receiver
Alan Worsham, running back
A few seniors made their “Missouri Statement” before leaving, though.
Huslig ranks second in total career offense yard — 7,465 — passing Jeremy Hoog. He ranks second in career passing touchdowns (38) and third for most career passing yards (6,405).
Currie reached the 1,000 receiving yards milestone a few games back, snagging a pass in 19 consecutive games. He will graduate with 1,107 career receiving yards from 91 passes, ranking 21st in the program.
Egbim joins a few all-time lists. He ranks seventh in program history for most career tackles for loss (27.5) and 13th for most career tackles (336).
Huslig and Egbim said the feeling of the end hasn’t set in yet, but they’re proud of the impact they could make on the program.
“We wanted to honor them with the way we play, and we didn’t do a very good job of honoring them with our performance on the field,” Steckel said. “It starts with me, and I feel really bad for them.”
Missouri State ends its 2019 season 1-10, the fifth consecutive losing season under Steckel. The Bears went 1-10 in Steckel’s first season at Missouri State in 2015.
“I’m thinking about how to fix this football team right now,” Steckel said. “I’m not even thinking about next season. I’m thinking about how I try to honor these seniors tomorrow night at senior appreciation.”