Willie Brown

Sophomore running back Steven Sumpter is brought to the ground by a slew of defenders in the Oct. 29 game against Northwest. The Lions were beaten 52-21.

Jordan Larimore


After last Saturday’s loss to the Fort Hays State University Tigers, Missouri Southern football Head Coach Bart Tatum chalked it up to a lack of preparation.

Tomorrow marks the 44th meeting of one of the MIAA’s most heated rivalries. The Sonic Miner’s Bowl pits Southern against what Tatum calls “the best Pittsburg [State University Gorillas] team I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Gorillas hold a 32-8-1 lead in the all-time series, including 17 straight wins over Southern. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg.

“They’ve been playing very well, very physical brand of football,” Tatum said. “As usual, running the ball very effectively. The difference with them offensively is [Zac] Dickey is throwing the ball so much better this year, he’s a much more accurate passer. He’s done a great job in the offseason preparing himself to be a better passer and he is.”

Southern is ranked seventh in pass defense in the MIAA, allowing 233 yards per game through the air. The Lions’ offense ranks sixth in conference with 419 yards per game, but PSU has the fifth-stiffest defense in the league by yards allowed per game.

On the injury front, the Lions are hopeful that two key pieces of their defensive line, and one or two more on the offensive line, could return for tomorrow’s season finale.

Preseason All-American defensive tackle Brandon Williams will be a gameday decision while he works through concussion symptoms. Tatum also hopes breakout freshman defensive end Ryon Phillips is able to play. Phillips sustained an elbow injury in practice last week. Both he and Williams missed the Fort Hays game last Saturday.

Southern has lost offensive lineman Tommy White for the season due to injury, and Beau Bounous has a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee. Ian Saxton, Ethan Powell, Austin Wolfe and Terry Cellars are four names on the offensive line who have made multiple starts this season and all are expected to start tomorrow, and Tatum hopes that will provide a base for offensive stability.

A win against the Gorillas would be the Lions’ first since 1993, and only the second in the last 19 years.

Last week, Southern was on the road at Fort Hays State where it reversed the season’s trend of late-game meltdowns and dissipating leads. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns were not enough to climb out of a one-time 27-0 deficit however, and the Lions dropped to 3-6 overall and 2-6 in conference play. The Tigers took the win 29-14.