Lions look to even their record behind powerful ground game

Maalik+Todd+catches+an+interception+and+runs+the+ball+during+Saturdays+game+against+Northeastern+State.

Kristen Stacy | Contributor

Maalik Todd catches an interception and runs the ball during Saturdays game against Northeastern State.

Ian Taylor, Sports Editor

Back to the road for the Lions (3-4, 3-4 MIAA) as they prepare for the prospect of returning to the .500 mark at this weekend’s contest against Lindenwood (1-6, 1-6 MIAA) at Hunter Stadium in St. Charles.

That’s a comfort Southern has not felt since the week four victory over Washburn, but a feeling they can not wait to have.

“Kinda get that taste out of your mouth … it was a rough two weeks but our guys played hard,” said head coach Daryl Daye. “One of the best compliments you can get as a coach is prior to the game you talk to the other head coach … week after week they come up and say, your guys are playing very hard, and that’s impressive.”

Southern continues to play solid football, ranking atop the MIAA in rushing yards per game (299 per game), red zone offense (87 percent scoring rate) and third down conversion percentage (48 percent), but has failed to capitalize in crunch time, losing two games in overtime to beatable teams and letting possible upsets slip through their fingers against No. 1 ranked Northwest Missouri and a tough Central Missouri team.

But as the Lions move into the eighth week of the season, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

This illumination comes in the form of another winning season, which would give Southern three such seasons in a row.

That’s a trademark statement for a head coach and a program who are in search of their own elite identity in the Division II ranks.

“Winning is what makes it all go — everything rolls from winning. It definitely doesn’t from losing,” said Daye. “You can sit back after the season’s over and say we had this many starters out, and this happened or that happened, the schedule’s tough … but those are the things you are normally saying when you’re not winning. Winning heals a lot of wounds and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Lindenwood comes into the contest on a six-game losing streak following its opening game victory over formerly mentioned Washburn. It’s not a far cry from last season when the team finished with a 3-6 overall record, but as the Lions prepare for this weekend, they know there is no time to take the foot off the gas.

Lindenwood’s losing streak is spearheaded by the lackluster numbers posted, leaving them near the bottom of the conference in multiple categories: most notably rushing offense (63 yard per game) and rushing defense (192 per game), areas where the Lions excel and will have to capitalize.

 “Their interior line isn’t all that big but they are athletic,” said senior offensive lineman Caleb Benner. “They run that eight-man front defense so it will be a little bit different.”

Last week had the makings of yet another tough outing for the Lions coming out of the locker room, as they spent halftime knotted with Northeastern State at seven.

But the Lions emerged from the halftime slumber with a vengeance and rattled off 27 unanswered points to blow out the MIAA bottom-feeding RiverHawks, a strong showing for a team in need after experiencing back-to-back heartbreakers.

The Lions look to keep their momentum this weekend as they move closer to the Miners Bowl contest against rival Pittsburg State.

Southern and Lindenwood are set to get under way at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25.