Redhawks' skid stretches outside OVC

Sunday, November 11, 2007
Southeast Missouri State defensive lineman Quentin Brown pursued Missouri State quarterback Cody Kirby. A freshman, Kirby passed for 255 yards.

Missouri State cruised to a 55-17 victory as the Redhawks suffered their seventh straight loss.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Southeast Missouri State's long losing streak had featured nothing but Ohio Valley Conference opponents inflicting the damage.

Saturday afternoon, a Gateway Conference member piled on.

Playing their final nonleague game of the season, the Redhawks were hammered 55-17 at Missouri State.

Southeast (2-8, 0-6 OVC) suffered its seventh straight defeat, while the Bears (6-5, 2-4 Gateway) ended their campaign with their first winning record since 2004.

Missouri State quarterback Cody Kirby eluded Southeast Missouri State defenders during the Bears' 55-17 victory Saturday over the Redhawks on in Springfield, Mo. (MIKE WILLIAMSON ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

"They execute well," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said of MSU's potent offense that ranks among the Gateway's best. "We knew they could score. They've scored on everybody."

MSU finished the season with a school-record 399 points after blistering Southeast.

The Bears did plenty of damage through the air and on the ground in piling up 534 total yards.

True freshman quarterback Cody Kirby completed 18 of 21 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns, while senior tailback Gerald Davis rushed for three touchdowns to finish the season with a school-record 19 TDs.

"Things were clicking today," Kirby said. "We just wanted to come out and execute and get a big win for the seniors."

Southeast Missouri State fullback Clint Jones looked for running room against the Missouri State defense during the Redhawks' 55-17 loss Saturday in Springfield. (MIKE WILLIAMSON ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Most of Southeast's highlights came after the game was already well out of reach.

Probably the biggest highlight for the Redhawks was converted quarterback Victor Anderson's first defensive touchdown.

With Southeast trailing 41-10 early in the fourth quarter, Anderson blitzed from his safety position and tipped a lateral pass from Kirby.

Anderson, who spent much of the season as Southeast's starting quarterback, came down with the ball and raced 45 yards for a touchdown. It was technically recorded as a fumble return.

Southeast's other touchdown, midway through the third quarter, was also set up by a long fum

ble return, this one covering 44 yards by junior linebacker Nick Stauffer that gave Southeast possession at the MSU 14.

Junior quarterback Houston Lillard snuck over from a yard out for the TD, which cut MSU's lead to 34-10.

But other highlights were few and far between for the Redhawks, who were limited to 328 yards by one of the nation's worst statistical defenses.

The Redhawks did spend plenty of time in MSU territory, only to see virtually every drive fizzle out either through turnovers (four) or penalties (12 for 85 yards).

"I thought we shot ourselves in the foot," Samuel said.

Lillard threw for 230 yards, completing 20 of 39 passes, but he was intercepted twice and also lost a fumble.

The Bears took advantage of long drives and Southeast mistakes to build a 27-3 halftime lead.

Three times in the opening half the Bears marched at least 65 yards for touchdowns.

MSU needed to travel only nine yards for its other TD after recovering a fumble by Lillard.

Southeast had its chances during a first half that saw the Redhawks gain 184 yards of offense but manage just three points.

Three times Southeast had possession deep in MSU territory but came away with only sophomore Doug Spada's 28-yard field goal early in the second quarter that sliced the Bears' lead to 7-3.

A drive that reached inside the MSU 15 in the final minute of the half ended with an interception in the end zone.

The Redhawks will have one more chance for a victory this year as they close out the season next Saturday at home against Jacksonville State.

Southeast will attempt to avoid the program's first winless OVC record since joining the league in 1991.

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