Lions look to slay Bisons on the road

Leigh Bishop

After suffering a 45-27 defeat last year at the hands of the Harding (Ark.) University Bisons, the Missouri Southern football Lions will travel to Searcy, Ark., in search of a little payback.

“I think everyone was pretty excited that we got signed to Harding again this year,” said senior center Tyler White. “It kind of left a bad taste in our mouths the last two years playing them. We’re definitely looking forward to going back. It’s a nice stadium and a good atmosphere.”

While the Lions are eager to turn that taste in their mouths from bitter to sweet, Head Coach Bart Tatum knows the team will have to get past some strong Harding talent.

“We have to stop that defensive tackle, number 90, Justin Currie,” Tatum said. “He is a good football player.”

“I think they have one of the best receivers that we’ll see this year in number three, Devin Link. Their quarterback is a very good football player.”

Tatum said the skilled positions is not the only area of strength for the Bisons.

“Starting up front with the (Brandon) Tittle kid, he’s a 6-foot-8, 310-pound left tackle,” he said. “He moves very well for a big man. But, containing the quarterback and the Link kid is going to be critical for us.”

Defensive Coordinator Daryl Daye agreed with Tatum’s assessment.

“They’ve got talent in key spots and they do a good job executing with their guys and targeting what they do offensively and how they want to attack you,” he said. “You get the ball in (Link’s) hands when you can and he can change the game for you.”

Offensively, Tatum said the Lions will need to block better in the running game to be successful against Harding.

“We’ve got to block the run better,” he said. “Our blitz pick-up and pass protection was pretty doggone good (against Ouachita Baptist).”

White said Tatum has preached the run from the beginning of workouts.

“I can tell you it was different than what we were used to,” he said. “But he sold us on it very quickly.

“He told us probably the first week of this year we were going to avg 4.5 yards a rush.”

Other players echoed White’s confidence in the Lions’ coaching staff.

“We have an amazing new coaching staff,” said Kenton Stephens, red-shirt defensive lineman.

White has a clear vision of what will be required of Southern against the Bisons.

“Harding for the past few years has been a good team,” he said. “They present some challenges for us going into the game, but we are confident; as we should be going into any game.

“Focus is everything. To beat this team, we are going to have to put in a full 60 minutes on the field and we are confident that we will do that.”

Last week, the Lions built a 28-16 lead in the fourth quarter and held off Ouachita Baptist 28-22 at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

The Tigers opened the scoring with a touchdown and conversion at the 9:12 mark of the first quarter. Southern answered nearly three minutes later on a 1-yard Ronnell Newman touchdown run.

The Lions drew even with the point-after and found the end zone two more times before the end of the first half. After a Tigers score late in the half, Southern took a 21-10 lead into the locker room.

Twelve minutes into the third quarter, Ouachita Baptist scored a touchdown, and the Lions added a fourth-quarter touchdown.

With 30 seconds left in the game, the Tigers scored the last touchdown of the game, making the final score 28-22.