Lions roar through home opener


Joshua Boley and Kenneth Armant/The Chart

All photos are from the Lion’s home opener on Thursday, Sept. 5, against the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos. The Lion’s won 52-38.

As the final whistle blew on Thursday night at Fred G. Hughes Stadium, the scoreboard showed a 52-38 score in favor of the Missouri Southern Lions, a lofty total to a fast paced game that saw Southern jump out to a commanding 35-14 lead at the half before Central Oklahoma’s valiant effort to come back in the second half ultimately fell short.

The Lions (1-0, 1-0 MIAA) relied heavily on the play of new starting quarterback Jay McDowell, who more than stepped up to the challenge.  Rushing for a team leading 121 yards and throwing for another 232, McDowell became the first at his position to rush for 100 yards and throw for 200 yards for Southern since Josh Chapman did just that in 2002.

“Ever since last year we saw glimpses of what he’s going to be able to do this season,” said sophomore running back Giresse Forchu.  “He really stepped up starting in the spring, and he really showed he could control the offense and put in good situations to win.”

Following a first half that saw the Southern defense hold the Bronchos in check, the Lions surrendered 24 points in the final two quarters.  Neither coaches nor players are satisfied with that but as the team readies for the first road game of the young season, members are anything but worried.

“We got to be able to stop the run game this week.  Last week we gave up way to many yards,” said senior linebacker Gatlin Ridgway.  “It’s the gap responsibilities and the defensive schemes, but if we do what we are coached to do we can stop anybody.”

Also excelling in the first game was running back Forchu, who accounted for 155 yards of total offense along with two touchdowns, compiling 48 yards on the ground and an impressive 107 through the air.  He racked up enough yards on three grabs to lead the team in receiving, averaging an astounding 35.7 yards per catch.

Up next, Southern is set to face the (0-1, 0-1 MIAA) RiverHawks of Northeastern State in the second game of the season.  

A RiverHawks team coming off a season opening blowout loss to Southern rival Pitt State is just another opponent on the Lions’ schedule, and they expect to play well.

“Honestly, offensively we try not to pay attention to the defensive personnel because our assignments are our assignments,” said Forchu.  “We know what we have to do and what we can control.”

The Lions and RiverHawks will hit the gridiron this Saturday, in the MIAA game of the week, playing in a contest that will be broadcast on MIAA TV.  An opportunity to showcase their talent and their schools to a larger audience, ultimately putting some extra pressure on both teams to perform at a high level.

Coverage of the game starts at 2:30 p.m. with kickoff coming at 2:37 p.m.