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Lions Homecoming spoiled by Fort Hays

Tyler Wade

The Missouri Southern State Lions entered Saturday’s homecoming game against Fort Hays State University looking to rebound from a heartbreaking loss on the road just a week prior. Meanwhile, the FHSU Tigers would hope to keep their foot on the gas after a 71-3 homecoming game of their own. 

The Lions take the liberty of scoring first after the opening drive of 44 yards concludes with Drake Reese kicking a 41 yard field goal. Almost 7 minutes later, Fort Hays responds with a deep shot to the end zone where Shane Watts brings in the 33 yard bomb from FHSU quarterback Jack Dawson. 

MSSU takes to the air when quarterback Luke Sampson finds receiver Ezekiel Lang on a 20 yard pass to take the Lions back into the lead. But Reese would go on to miss the extra point and keep the score at 9-7. 

The Tigers get the ball back with just over 5 minutes remaining in the first half and use this time to march down the field. Just a few yards from the end zone, Lion Halid Djibril attempts a goal line tackle that unfortunately would take him out of the game. Djibril was taken off in an ambulance but Coach Bradley is optimistic of his return, “He was very lively, moving his hands and didn’t want to stay down on the board. So I think he’s gonna be just fine… I honestly feel bad for the people at the hospital cause he was ready to go and did not wanna sit down or lay down.” 

Fort Hays then finishes its drive when running back Travis Dixon powers his way forward for a 2 yard touchdown rush bringing the lead back with a score of 14-9. 

While the Lions are only left with 12 seconds left in the first half, Deontay Campbell hauls in a spectacular 25 yard single handed catch to set up a 55 yard attempt for Reese. The kick winds up being no good, making the Lions down 9-14 going into the half.

The Tigers get the ball to start the second half and waste no time picking up where they left off. Dawson takes this one on his own when he caps off a 66 yard drive with a 2 yard run into the end zone, adding to the lead and making it 21-9 for FHSU. 

Missouri Southern is soon forced to punt but would be saved when the Tigers lose the ball in the sky and muff the punt. MSSU’s Dominque Taylor picks it up as Southern would capitalize onthe turnover when running back Nathan Glades runs in for a 15 yard touchdown. However, Reese goes on to miss his third kick of the day by pushing the extra point wide, making the score 21-15 in favor of the Tigers. Despite 3 consecutive misses.

“You’re talking about a kid (Reese) who’s knocked through forties… Sometimes you see the kicker miss but you don’t see the operation of it… We’re not gonna over analyze it. He’s still our kicker.” Coach Bradley said.

After trading punts, Fort Hays gets the ball back with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. This drive would prove fruitful as Dixon gets his second score of the day on a 2 yard run into the end zone, putting the Tigers up 28-15 to end the third quarter. 

MSSU begins to feel the pressure of being down 13 in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Sampson is able to complete a 15 yard touchdown pass to Jaedon Stoshak after a 5 minute, 74 yard drive. Reese finally finds his stride and puts the extra point through, bringing the score to 28-22 in favor of FHSU. 

Hoping to get the ball back, the Lion defense quickly forces a 3rd and short. But the Tigers are determined to keep the ball in their hands when Dawson finds receiver Bryson Smith for a gain of 30 yards, deflating the Lions hopes of a quick turnover. Fort Hays rides the momentum of their big gain to another touchdown when Watts runs in for his second touchdown of the day, extending the Tiger’s lead to a score of 35-22. 

The Lions now face a 13 point deficit again, this time with just under 4 minutes in the game. MSSU fan’s hopes would unfortunately be lost when Luke Sampson is intercepted by the Tiger’s John Johnson. where Fort Hays would go on to run out the clock and win the contest 35-22. 

“I saw a good football team lose to a better football team.” He would go on to note the inconsistent stops and Fort Hays making the important plays when they needed to. “We struggled to get consistent stops. They made some plays when it mattered,” Coach Bradley said.

The Lions fall to 3-3 on the year and will be at home next week for the Miners Bowl against Pitt State.

 “We gotta be undefeated in the week. We still got a lot of football in front of us… We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves… We gotta find a way to pull ourselves up and get back to work,” Bradley said.

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