Southern looks to end football season on high note


Ian Taylor |The Chart

Junior wide receiver Chad Nolan beats a Fort Hays State defender for a touchdown reception  on Senior Day, Nov. 7, 2015. The Lions lost the game 42-31. Nolan  had two touchdown receptions in the game and leads the Lions this season in touchdown receptions with six. Nolan leads the team in the category, and has 16 receptions for 416 yards overall.

The Missouri Southern football team gave up a defensive touchdown on its first offensive drive of the game, but Fort Hays would lead by as many as 25 points on the way to a 42-31 victory over Southern. It was Senior Night, the final home game of the season at Fred G. Hughes stadium.

Southern (1-9, 1-9 MIAA) gave up 14 points to open up both halves against the Tigers (7-3, 7-3 MIAA) on Saturday. The Lions trailed early 14-0 before kicker Brock Renken got Southern on the board with 04:36 remaining in the first quarter.

Both teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter as wide receiver Chad Nolan caught a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback T.J Fleeton to keep the Lions’ deficit at 11 heading into the break. That was Nolan’s team-leading sixth touchdown reception this season.

The Tigers increased their lead to 25 points after scoring 14 unanswered to open the second half. A seven-play 75-yard touchdown drive by FHSU, capped off by a 38-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Evan Jennings, gave the Tigers a 35-10 lead. The Lions scored on a Fleeton 2-yard touchdown run before the end of the quarter to cut the lead to 18.

After the Tigers opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown, the Lions scored 14 unanswered points to cut the Tiger lead down to nine with under a minute to go. That would be as close as the Lions got. FHSU defeated Southern 42-31.

This marks the second time this season the Lions have put up over 490 total yards of offense in a losing effort. Fleeton led the Lions’ offensive attack, throwing for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Will Gregory rushed for over 100 yards with 20 carries. Freshman wide out Carson Day had both season and career highs in both receptions and yards, with 10 receptions for 88 yards on the day.

Defensively, the Lions were led by safety Johnquavious McBride with 14 tackles. Linebacker Ryan Solomon had seven tackles and a sack, while senior corner Michael Burks had an interception.

The Lions fumbled the ball four times on Saturday, losing three. That’s three times this season the Lions have lost three fumbles in a game.

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow as Southern travels to St. Joseph to take on Missouri Western for the final game of the season. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m.