Lions break records despite loss

Wentric Williams runs his way into the record books with a game total of 252 rushing-yards.

Wentric Williams runs his way into the record books with a game total of 252 rushing-yards.

Head football coach John Ware and his staff don’t want to hear that they enjoyed a “moral victory” against the nationally-ranked Central Missouri State University Mules last Saturday.

Southern lost to No. 15 CMSU 40-33 despite a high powered Lions offensive attack that saw the team accumulate 601 yards and record the fourth-best offensive day in school history. The Mules defense was ranked second in the MIAA going into the game.

Southern scored nearly twice as many first downs as the Mules and beat CMSU in time of possession by 8:20, but gave up four long plays that accounted for 202 yards – nearly half of the Mules’ 411-yard offensive production.

“Our offense did enough for us to win but we just gave up too many big plays,” said Lions defensive coordinator Todd Wash. “We had a lot of missed tackles and that’s something we’ve got to get better at.

“You could say it was a moral victory, but Missouri Southern didn’t bring us here for moral victories. We’re here to compete for a national championship.”

Freshman quarterback Nathan Emert echoed Wash’s sentiments after the game. Emert accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) and passed for 338 yards with one interception.

“We had a chance to win it and we should have won it,” Emert said. “We played with a lot of heart but, nationally ranked or not, we should have beat them. Period.”

While the team may not have been satisfied with its showing, many players and coaches said they hope the game sends a message to other schools in the MIAA.

Ware said he hopes the game will earn the program the respect of other teams and will give the team something to build off of for the remainder of its schedule.

“Hopefully, we can use this as a springboard for better things in the future,” Ware said. “Our kids are working hard and I’m extremely pleased with their effort.”

The game saw sophomore running back Wentric Williams write his name in the school record book. His 252-yard rushing performance was the fifth-best single-game showing in school history.

Williams said he believes the team’s offensive performance will give the Lions respect throughout the conference.

“We wanted to show the fans and the rest of the conference what we can do,” Williams said, who recorded a 66-yard touchdown run with 9:49 remaining in the first half and added six catches for 33 yards. “This shows the MIAA that Missouri Southern is taking a step ahead.”

Senior DeMarcus Mathes led all Lions receivers with 11 catches for 111 yards. He was one of the eight Lions Emert connected with throughout the night.

Other players who recorded receptions include junior wideout Tedaryl Mason (five catches for 33 yards), senior tight end Cody Hilburn (two catches to 32 yards), freshman receiver Otis Taylor (two catches for 26 yards), senior wideout Craig Winfrey (two catches for 16 yards) and freshman receiver Colin Bado (two catches for nine yards).

Senior running back Nate Proctor made his only touch of the game count when he took a short Emert pass 78 yards for a score with 24 seconds left in the game, putting the Lions within a touchdown of forcing overtime.

The gain was not enough, however, as the Mules recovered the ensuing onsides kick by sophomore Brandon Hawkins and kneeled down to preserve the victory.

The Lions and Mules are now both 1-1 in conference play. CMSU improved its season record to 3-1 while Southern dropped to 2-2.