ST. LOUIS — A trio of Missouri State football standouts were honored by the Missouri Valley Football Conference on Monday as the league’s players of the week.
Behind the efforts of quarterback Jacob Clark (Jr., Rockwall, Texas), cornerback Caleb Blake (Jr., Winter Haven, Fla.) and running back Jayden Becks (Fr., Waxahachie, Texas), the Bears knocked off visiting Utah Tech, 59-14, at Plaster Stadium on Saturday to give head coach Ryan Beard his first victory.
Clark is this week’s MVFC Offensive Player of the Week after he passed for 414 yards and matched a school-record with 5 touchdowns in MSU’s home opener. He was 17-for-21 for 356 yards in the first half alone with 4 TD tosses to push the Bears ahead 38-14 at the game’s midway point. He finished his third college start with a 19-for-26 day overall with no interceptions and the second-highest passing yardage total in program history, engineering six consecutive MSU scoring drives (with five TD’s) in the heart of the game. His efforts helped the Bears produce 672 yards of total offense on Saturday, the No. 6 effort in school history.
The College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) named Clark as an honorable mention selection for National FCS Performer of the Week.
Blake earned MVFC Defensive Player of the Week after the standout cornerback had an elite effort in the win over Utah Tech. He registered 5 total tackles, an interception and defended 4 passes in his first start of the season. Blake picked off a Utah Tech pass on the first play of the second half to set up a Missouri State touchdown for his first career pick. Blake also had a 7-yard tackle for loss in the standout performance. The Trailblazers targeted Blake’s receivers 10 times on Saturday and just completed three passes for 23 total yards.
Becks, a true freshman, earned MVFC Newcomer of the Week after providing a spark off the bench for MoState with 21.7 yards per carry, a touchdown and the team’s two longest plays of the game. Becks had a 50-yard touchdown rush in the fourth-quarter for his first career score, capping an eight-play touchdown drive. He also was a cornerstone in team’s longest passing play of the game, highlighting a 51-yard pass play from Jacob Clark to set up another MSU score two plays later. Becks finished with 134 total yards on just five all-purpose plays (three rushes, two receptions) in an incredible home debut.
It marks just the seventh time since the formation of the Missouri Valley Football Conference (formerly the Gateway Football Conference) the Bears have had three or more league honorees in the same week.
The Bears (1-2) will open conference play Saturday with a 4 p.m. kickoff at Southern Illinois at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale.