Pitt State Gorillas prove to be kings of the jungle

Pittsburg State (Kan.) once again has bragging rights over Missouri Southern. The Missouri Southern football team couldn’t survive in the jungle as the Gorillas protected home field and Miners Bowl bragging rights as they beat Southern 41-14 last weekend inside Carnie Smith Stadium.

Southern (1-8, 1-8 MIAA) has lost back-to-back Miner Bowl games by a combined total of 58 points.

Within the first two minutes of the first quarter, PSU had already climbed out to a 14-0 lead. Mind you, the PSU offense hadn’t taken the field yet. The opening kickoff was taken back for touchdown, and a pick six followed on the Lions first offensive possession of the game. PSU ended the first quarter with a touchdown to take a commanding 21-0 lead.

“We knew they had a great returner back there. The opening kickoff we felt we could kick it through the end zone, but we let it short and he returned it,” said head coach Denver Johnson.

The Lions got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when EJ McKenzie picked off a pass from PSU quarterback Thomas LePage and returned it 35 yards for the touchdown, to make the score 21-7. That was the only score of the second quarter as the Lions went into the break trailing by 14.

In the third quarter ,with PSU driving, senior linebacker Kyjuan Tate picked off LePage at the PSU 34-yard line. Moments later, TJ Fleeton delivered a dime while taking a hit to wide receiver Jocqui Davis for a 37-yard touchdown to cut the lead to seven. From there, the Gorillas would lock down and finish off the Lions.

PSU would score 20 unanswered points to separate from the Lions and claim victory for the second consecutive season.

“We weren’t able to sustain anything offensively in the fourth quarter. That’s been the story of our season,” Johnson said. “It seems like in the latter stages of the game, we just fade away.”

The Lions return home for their home finale and senior day tomorrow against Fort Hays State University. This has been a lost season for the Lions, but they want to send their seniors out of Fred G. Hughes Stadium with a lasting memory and Southern victory.

“This will be my last time playing with this group of guys, this coaching staff, and my last time playing in front of these fans,” said senior cornerback Martice Buckley. “My mom, brother and sister will be here. It’s going to be an emotional day.”

“I really appreciate that about these kids. They’re still fighting. I think they’re still scrapping, clawing, continuing to improve,” said Johnson.

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow as Southern plays host to Fort Hays State on Senior Day. Kickoff from Fred G. Hughes Stadium is slated for 3 p.m.