Should Southern have won the Miner’s Bowl last week I think so …

Jesse Cordova - Assistant Sports Editor

Jesse Cordova – Assistant Sports Editor

Were you at the same Miner’s Bowl? I was. Because the game that I watched showed a Missouri Southern football team that is better than a 31-28 loss to the sixth-ranked Pittsburg State Gorillas. I was so shocked at the outcome that I looked at the stats just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Now I think I still may be.Southern had more rushing yards, more passing yards, more completions, more third down conversions and more total offense against a defense that is arguably the best in the MIAA. The only statistical categories where Southern was beaten by the Gorillas were time of possession and penalties.Time of possession is understandable when you look at a PSU offense that likes to use the option to run the clock down, but penalties? The first big penalty came in the first quarter on sophomore defensive back Skyler Vandiver. Vandiver was chasing down Gorilla quarterback Mark Smith from behind and tackled him out of bounds at the 27 yard line of Southern, a gain of 47. Just when you think the momentum of the then scoreless game couldn’t shift any more to PSU, you see the yellow flag fly. The call: “personal foul number 47 of the defense, half the distance to the goal, first down.”Then the defense clamps down and forces a field goal, but instead of from 40 yards its from 25, and its good. Hmm.The first quarter ends 3-0. 3-0. Considering some of the lickings that PSU has put on Southern in the last 14 years it doesn’t sound too bad, right? The second half is where things get interesting. PSU starts with the ball and drives to inside the five. Gorilla quarterback Mark Smith rolls out of the pocket and throws the ball into the corner of the end zone where wide receiver Marques Nelson has slipped and fallen. The pass falls incomplete. This appears to be a huge stop forcing the Gorillas to settle for a field goal. But wait, another flag and this time no one has any idea what the call might be. We once again go to the field for the call.”Pass Interference, Defense. Half the distance to the goal. FIRST DOWN!”What?! Video shows that there was no one within three feet of Nelson when he slipped. And they didn’t even give a jersey number.Two plays later the Gorillas make the score 17-7.After a Southern three-and-out and a big punt return by PSU, the Gorillas once again drive inside the five. Then the Southern crowd erupts as Lion defenders indicate they have the ball. Once again, we go to the field for the call.”The whistle was inadvertent. There was no fumble on the play. Pittsburg State ball.” The Gorillas pound it in on the next play. 24-7.This is what fans are used to. PSU starts pulling away and just as in years past the stands start looking less filled.Southern, refusing to go down without a fight, goes on a 16 play, 72 yard, eight minute drive that culminates in Broussards second touchdown. 24-14.Then the Gorillas break off a 19-yard run on 3rd and 8 to the 50-yard line and you guessed it, another flag. “Personal foul defense number 17, 15-yard penalty first down.” First and 10 from the 35, not the 50. Another defensive stand from Southern results in a 27 yard Gorilla field goal attempt, this time it’s wide right.After an interception for PSU and a touchdown the score is 31-14. More fans leave.Southern drives 63 yards in less than two minutes and score on a two yard touchdown run by Broussard. 31-21.Southern forces a turnover on downs after a failed pooch kick and once again scores a touchdown to make it 31-28. The Lions last chance came on another pooch kick but the ball was recovered by PSU with a minute left.Let’s review. A penalty in the first quarter put PSU in field goal range instead of having to punt. A questionable pass interference call led to a first and goal and a touchdown for PSU instead of a fourth and goal and a field goal. An “inadvertent whistle” took a fumble away from Southern and led to a PSU touchdown. The way I see it, 17 Gorilla points came as a direct result of a call that was made just a few plays earlier. Interesting.