Football Lions seek win #6 at home

If the Missouri Southern football Lions are to secure a winning record this year, most believe it will have to come tomorrow against Truman State University.

But head coach Bart Tatum reminded the press this week that his team has two cracks at finishing 6-5.

“We do have another game next week,” he said about the season finale at Northwest Missouri State University. “We aren’t going to forfeit. We are actually going to get on the busses and go to Maryville.

“I’m sure everyone will chalk that one up before we play the game but we are going to go ahead and play it.”

But Tatum made it clear neither he nor the team is looking past the Bulldogs. He said securing a six-win season at Hughes Stadium is important for more than the Lions’ season-ending opponent.

“Every senior but one will have immediate family here,” he said. “And that will be quite a deal to secure a winning season in front of their people.”

In order to secure the first winning season since the 1996 campaign, the Lions will have to face a pass-happy spread offense from Truman. Tatum said he believes his defense is up to the challenge.

“There is no other position on the team that saw such a tremendous upgrade in talent from last year than the defensive backfield,” he said. “You can’t coach speed and athleticism and ability.”

But he also indicated that good downfield coverage may not be enough. The Lions will have to contain Bulldogs quarterback Matt Ticich.

“The scary thing is their quarterback,” Tatum said. “He is one of those guys that if the pocket breaks down, the play is not over.

“That is when the play can get very exciting.”

Tatum said the two teams provide fans with an “intriguing” matchup.

“They’ve lost to similar people, they’ve beat similar people,” he said. “They’re 5-4 and we’re 5-4. They had a winning record last year, so they know how to get it done.

“It should be a good game for the fans to watch and we look forward to showing up and giving our best effort.”

Senior running back Alley Broussard said he and the other seniors have bounced back from road losses the last two weeks at the University of Central Missouri (24-23) and Missouri Western State University (30-14).

“Coach Tatum met with the seniors and put it in our hands” Broussard said. “He said if you want it bad enough you just have to go out and get it.

“The seniors came together and were like we have two games left, so let’s go out with two wins.”

Broussard, from Lafayette, La., transferred to Southern from Louisiana State University this fall and reflected on his final season.

“Its been up and down this season as far as wins and losses and stats,” he said. “But I think it has been a pretty good season overall.

“No regrets. I love everybody, the team, the coaches, the fans and the whole community. It has been pretty nice. Joplin, Mo. Great ol’ Joplin.”

Last week, Southern came up on the short end at Western. While the score was ugly for the Lions, Tatum was encouraged by the play of his defense.

“Looking back on the Missouri Western game, defensively we gave up two or three big pass plays that hurt us and we are not pleased with that,” he said. “But overall it was a very solid effort by our defense.

“To go to St. Joseph and only give up 24 points and really keep us in the game it was a solid effort.”

Big plays, penalties and turnovers have been problems for the Lions this year, and the loss to the Griffons was nothing new in that regard.

“When you turn it over four times and give up an 87-yard touchdown on a punt return to a playoff team, you are going to lose,” Tatum said. “No matter how good you are.”