SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The UT Martin football team denied an MSU versus MSU matchup and a return home for Bobby Petrino.
The 16th-ranked Skyhawks (10-2) earned a 32-31 win at No. 12 Missouri State (8-4) on Saturday in the first round of the FCS playoffs. They will travel to Bozeman next week and face No. 7 Montana State, the eighth seed, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.
UT Martin won despite missing injured starting quarterback Keon Howard, a Walter Payton Award finalist and the Ohio Valley Conference offensive player of the year. His backup, Dresser Winn, threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Donnell Williams with 3:36 left in Saturday's game to take the lead for good. John Ford intercepted Missouri State's Jason Shelley one play before the game-winning score.
A pair of five-point leads for Missouri State was as large as the margin got all game, and the lead changed eight times.
Shelley, also a Walter Payton Award finalist and the Missouri Valley Football Conference offensive POY, led the Bears to the UT Martin 46 yard-line with about a minute remaining, but D’Carrious Stephens picked him off to end the game.
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Shelley completed 22 of 42 passes (52.4%) for 279 yards, three TDs and three INTs, and he rushed for 93 yards on 13 carries (7.2 ypc).
Winn went 23 of 43 (53.5%) for 272 yards, two TDs and an INT.
Petrino is in his second year as Missouri State's head coach. The Montana native previously coached Louisville and was briefly an NFL head coach for the Atlanta Falcons.