Triple-Overtime Valley Opener Goes to Bears


What’s homecoming without a little extra flair? Or extra football? It took three overtime periods to decide the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener between Western Illinois and Missouri State on Saturday (Oct. 5), and the visiting Bears took home the 37-31 decision. 

The score sat locked at 21-all at the end of regulation, ahead of a triple-action thriller that saw the Leathernecks capitalize on fourth and long. 

“The effort, physicality I was really, really proud of, but we didn’t make enough plays at the end of it,” said head coach Jared Elliott. “At the end of the day, we had plenty of chances to win, even in regulation. We’ve got to get back to work, and that’s what we’ll do. It hurts. Our guys battled tonight, and there was a relentless spirit. For that, I’m really proud.”

The Leathernecks scored first and scored early after Kyle Williams recovered a fumble at the MSU 10-yard line. The 265-pound defensive end ran it home for his first career touchdown and the 7-0 edge stuck through the end of the first quarter.

He wasn’t the only Leatherneck to create history on the day as Max Norris returned to action and surpassed his 1,000th career rushing yard. Norris entered the Valley matchup at 998 yards, and a four-yard rush on Western’s second drive achieved the feat. 

“[Max] laid it all out there today. He ran the ball with a different mindset and mentality, and just an edge in physicality. That’s what makes Max great. Our offense fed off of that today. It’s important of who we are, and having Max back helped us in more ways than one.” 

With 12:27 left until halftime, Kevin Johnson aired it out to Tony Tate for a 41-yard pass. The home team was on the brink of another score less than 30 seconds before the break, but an interception at the one-yard line put an end to the drive.

The Leathernecks headed into the locker room with a 14-7 lead and stared at a 21-14 deficit with 7:51 remaining. 

Connor Sampson entered the game at quarterback after MSU’s go-ahead score and helped lead the offense to a 13-play, 74-yard drive that ended in Norris’ first touchdown of the night. He finished the game with two, and the second occurred a few plays after facing fourth and 12 at the MSU 27-yard line. 

Nate Erickson sent the MVFC matchup into its third tie (31-31) on a 45-yard field goal, but Western couldn’t respond to Bears’ final score. 

 The Leathernecks head to Indiana State next Saturday for a noon kick.

***Report Courtesy of Western Illinois University Athletics***

Spread the word

Trending Now

Featured Sports Podcasts

Choose a Category

Continue Reading