Bears clinch share of MVFC title

Sports

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It’s been a turnaround year for the Missouri State football program.

The Bears beat Youngstown State 21-10 on Saturday afternoon at Plaster Stadium to increase the winning streak to four games.

The win also gives Missouri State (5-4, 5-1) a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship for the first time since 1990 and its first winning record since 2009.

“We got leadership from our players and our assistant coaches, and we got a share of that conference championship which feels really good,” Bears head coach Bobby Petrino said.

Jaden Johnson entered the game in the second quarter after starting quarterback Matt Struck was injured on a run up the middle.

Johnson led the team to a touchdown drive, which Jeremiah Wilson capped off with a Jeremiah Wilson run, before halftime to give the Bears a 7-3 lead.

“It shows a lot of character on Jaden’s part,” Petrino said. “He kept practicing hard, coming to meetings with a great attitude and kept his focus on being a leader when the opportunity came.

The Bears rode the hot-hand in the second hand, sticking with Johnson at quarterback.

The decision paid off as Johnson led the Bears to back-to-back touchdown drives to start the second half. The Bears scoring 21 unanswered points.

Johnson hit Damoriea Vick on a pair of touchdown passes, one from eight yards out and another from 31 yards out. It was the first touchdown grabs for Vick this season and Johnson’s first multi-touchdown game of his career.

The Bears aren’t scheduled to play anyone as the Valley wraps up play next weekend as Illinois State opted-out of the remainder of the season.

The Bears are in the conversation for a playoff spot, which will be revealed on April 18.

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