Lions end year on less than stellar note

Junior+quaterback+Scott+Lathrop+pushes+the+pile+against+the+Mules+of+Central+Missouri+on+Oct.+4%2C+2014%2C+at+Fred+G.+Hughes+Stadium.+Lathrop+led+the+Lions+with+93+rushing+yards+but+Southern+lost+the+contest+in+overtime+34-31.

John Davidson | The Chart

Junior quaterback Scott Lathrop pushes the pile against the Mules of Central Missouri on Oct. 4, 2014, at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. Lathrop led the Lions with 93 rushing yards but Southern lost the contest in overtime 34-31.

Ian Taylor, Sports Editor

The ending to the Lions (4-7, 4-7 MIAA) 2014 season was not one for the storybook, but following two seasons with yet another of moderate success shows that this is a program on the rise.

Looking to compete with the elite talent throughout the conference, a goal within reach after defeating the Gorillas of Pitt State for the first time since 1993 last season, the Lions must be more consistent to be a year-in year-out contender.

“We talk about it all the time. You talk about it when you are recruiting,” said head coach Daryl Daye. “You talk about adversity and dealing with adversity. And how you respond to it really shows what you are made of. That’s probably the area we are most proud of our guys, is they stayed together and worked hard all year long.”

Southern once again claimed the top spot for rushing yards in the MIAA with 2,954, adding 39 touchdowns on the ground.

The Lions averaged 29.7 points per game to rank forth in the MIAA, allowing 31.3 per to their opponents, while ranking in the top five for punting, kickoff coverage, field goals and punt return average.

These statistics impress, but with the ground game becoming something of Southern lore, the team continued to struggle with mistakes that cost them football games.

The Lions lost two overtime games at a critical juncture of the schedule due to costly mistakes. They endured two beatings on the green and gold field of Fred G. Hughes Stadium at the hands of Northwest Missouri and Pitt State, the top two teams in the conference, and finally, the Lions fell at home by a single point in the season finale.

Next season may bring about a few changes, but with a roster that boasts 10 players selected to the All-MIAA team, it is obvious the talent to compete exists.

Topping the list of All-MIAA selections is junior return man Ty’Quan Hayes. Selected to the second team by the conference coaches, Hayes led the MIAA in combined returns (kickoffs and punts) this season, ranking 21st in the country for punt return average (13.2 per return).

Following Hayes on the All-MIAA teams are junior running back Giresse Forchu, who led Southern with 15 touchdowns, ranking him 21st nationally, and senior Austin Wolfe. Both made the third team.

Rounding out the third team honorees was sophomore Johnquavious McBride, who finished second in the conference in fumble recoveries.

The Lion honorable mentions were seniors Caleb Benner, Dalvin Taylor, Gaige Washington and Kyle Jaski, as well as freshmen Shannon Saunders and Brock Renken.