Poor performance opens Lions’ eyes

The Missouri Southern football team (1-4, 1-4 MIAA) suffered their second 40+ point loss of the season last weekend as the Lions were dismantled at the hands of the University of Central Missouri in Walton Stadium.

The Lions fell 54-10 their biggest loss of the season, eclipsing their 48-7 (41) loss against Northwest Missouri State University on Sept. 10.

This follows the 21-26 loss against Washburn on Sept. 26. The Lions blew an eight point lead in the final five minutes of play in that game, giving up 13 unanswered to ultimately lose the ballgame.

Earlier in the week, head coach Denver Johnson stated that he didn’t think a loss like that was demoralizing to his team.

“I don’t sense that with our guys,” said Johnson. “What I sense from them is a growing confidence that we can be competitive with teams in this conference. I think they took some encouragement from that.”

Maybe that lost lingered into the match-up against UCM.

The Lions gave up 52 unanswered points before scoring a field goal in third quarter.

Backup quarterback Kyle Keller entered the game midway through the second quarter following an injury to starting quarterback TJ Fleeton. Keller led the Lions to their 10 total points on the day. Keller connected with wide out Chad Nolan for a 19 yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.

Keller completed half of his 36 passing attempts for 188 yards and a touchdown. Before his injurt, Fleeton went 5-14 with 41 yards.

Defensively, the Lions were led by safety Johnquavious McBride with nine tackles (2 solo) and an interception. Linebackers Rolandeis Toliver and Ryan Solomon had a forced fumble each.

The Lions gave up 705 total yards of offense against the Mules. The rushing defense was not present as they gave 335 yards on the ground. UCM doubled the Lions first down total with 30 first down conversions.

“We realized that no team is going to slow down and take their foot off the gas just because the game is getting out of hand,” said junior defensive end David Smith. “We know we can’t let that happen again. We have to bring it every play.”

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow when Southern plays host to Central Oklahoma in the Pink Game. Junior Kyle Keller will be making his first start as a Lion against Central Oklahoma. The Lions return to Fred G. Hughes Stadium for the first time since Sept. 19 against Washburn. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.