Lions Beat Pitt: Twenty years in the Making

Lions+Beat+Pitt%3A+Twenty+years+in+the+Making

Photo courtesy of Mike Gullet

Lions Beat Pitt: Twenty years in the Making

Ian Taylor, Sports Writer

How long is 19 years? To some, it signifies a single chapter of a long life, but in the case of Missouri Southern football, 19 years was the absolute threshold of anguish, and to the Southern fans it was the time line of their torture.

The Sonic Miners Bowl series against Pittsburg State has been far from satisfying over the years. With an accumulative record of 8-36-1, the Gorillas made it hard to consider the series anything other than a case of utter dominance.  

Casting a fierce shadow over most of the MIAA, Pitt State has been an unstoppable force in recent memory, winning a National Championship just two years ago and earning numerous accolades — this after consecutive seasons in 2009 (5-6) and 2010 (6-6) of less-than-stellar achievement.

In the midst of a stint that saw the Lions lose so many consecutive games to the Gorillas, it would be easy for the faint of heart to lose faith, but just as Harvey Dent told Bruce Wayne in Batman, the night is always darkest just before the dawn.  

That adage was almost too close to the hearts of the Lions following the unspeakable tragic death of Coach Derek Moore. His murder rocked the Southern family, but as Head Coach Daryl Daye stated at a ceremony held earlier this month, it was time to move forward.

The Lions showed up in Pittsburg looking to honor their fallen coach, and what better way to do so than with a victory of epic proportions, in a hostile environment, against the school’s biggest rival? A win would cement a season in the memory of a University moving forward and make the words written in that cement tell a joyous story of a season and the man who helped to make it all possible.

And after taking out the No. 6 ranked Gorillas, that is exactly what the Lions accomplished.

“We did it moso 2013 football redeem team,” said Julian Young via Twitter following the win over Pitt.  “Coach Moore that was for you.”

As the calendar turned to 20 years, the Lions football culture undertook drastic change. With Coach Daye at the helm, there was room for optimism following a season that put Southern back over the .500 mark for the first time in years.

The team has bought in to that progress wholeheartedly.

“The sky is the limit for the program,” said Daye in an interview with The Joplin Globe. “We have a great new president, a great athletic director. It just means all great things for us.”  

The Lions can’t say that the stigma that makes every trip down Highway 171 mean a little more than the other games on the schedule is in the rearview mirror just yet, but after taking home the Sonic Bowl trophy for the first time in 20 years, it just may be time for the Lions to start a streak of their own.