Late scores enough to push Lopers past Lions.

Missouri Southern Lions took on the #14 Nebraska-Kearney Lopers on Thursday night at Fred G. Hughes Stadium in Joplin, MO. The lions were looking for redemption after dropping last year’s opener to the Lopers 38-0.

The Lions were able to stay within one score until the Lopers pulled away in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 24-7.

“We hung tough with the number fourteen team in the country, that’s a huge positive,” Lions head coach Atiba Bradley stated, ” Our guys continued to play hard and with passion.”

The Lions offense could never get into a rhythm only totaling 187 yards of total offense 105 through the air and 82 on the ground compared to the Lopers 375 yards of total offense 44 yards through the air and 331 on the ground.

The leading rusher for the Lopers was returning MIAA offensive player of the year QB TJ Davis who had 20 carries for 129 yards.

“He(Davis) touches the ball every play and when a play breaks down that’s when he gets his yards he had a couple of designed runs but he also had some runs that were just quite frankly impressive” Bradley stated.

The Lions defense made multiple stops in their own territory including a goal line stand to keep the Lopers out of the endzone before halftime.

“That group laid it out there. We had a couple guys who had some cramps and you could just see the exhaustion on their bodies.” Bradley stated.

The Lions leading tackler was senior Richard Jordan Jr who finished the game with 16 tackles.

“He is a prime guy when I’m talking about emotions. His emotions led us to 2 or 3 TFLs,” Bradley stated, “He plays at a very high level and with a lot of emotion and passion and that’s why you see some of the plays that he made.”

The Lions only score of the night came in the first quarter on a four yard quarterback keeper by Dawson Herl which was set up by a Dylan Bolden interception of TJ Davis inside Loper territory.

The Lopers scores came on a four yard Montez Jackson touchdown run in the first quarter, a 46 yard Junior Gonzalez field goal in the second, a Darius Swanson 18 yard pick six in the fourth, and a 32 yard run by Zane Schawang in the fourth.

The Lions will be on the road next Saturday where they will face the Northeastern State Riverhawks (0-1) at Gable Field at Doc Wadley Stadium with a 6 pm kickoff time.