Lions host defending National Champs


Alexandra Nicolas / The Chart

John Michael Bryant goes for a tackle against Pittsburg State University Quarterback Zac Dickey in Saturday’s Sonic Miner’s Bowl matchup. The Gorillas extended their win streak against Southern to 17 games.

There is never a good time to have to play the defending National Champions.

There may not be a worse time to have to face the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats in 2010.  

Missouri Southern’s football team will be faced with both those tasks tomorrow.

Mel Tjeerdsma will bring his team to Hughes Stadium coming off a rout of then No. 8 in the nation Missouri Western.

The Bearcats handled the Griffons, shutting them out 42-0.

Another disadvantage the Lions will be faced with is the injury to running back Steven Sumpter.

Sumpter, who had been Southern’s primary ground-threat, is likely out for the rest of the season

“They’ve played really well all year,” Head Coach Bart Tatum said.

“I know from an offensive standpoint, their opener, they were very disappointed but they got that situation squared away right away in their second game versus Nebraska-Omaha.

“They played pretty solid in a rain-soaked game over at Truman and then they were really hitting on all cylinders last week against Missouri Western.

“To put up 42 points on the No. 8 team in the country is a big deal.

“Even more impressive was their defensive output. Because no one had even come close to slowing Western down up to that point.”

Northwest has not lost to the Lions since 1994, good for a 15-year winning streak.

According to wide receiver Ne’Ronte Threatt, the most impressive thing about the Bearcats is their speed on defense, saying they “have everything they need.”

Defensive lineman John Michael Bryant calls the Northwest offense the best the Lions have seen this year.

“Every offense has their specialties but this one, they’re crisp on everything they do,” he said.

“From what I can tell they just do the little things right, step by step, play by play.

“Some teams fall apart after a little while, they just keep smashing you for four quarters, so we’re going to show up for four quarters.”

Southern will be coming off a loss as heartbreaking as Northwest’s last victory was one-sided.

The Lions’ losing streak against Pittsburg State was extended to 17 years as a last-second field goal sent them home with a 24-21 loss.

The Gorillas’ streak against Southern is currently the longest of its kind.

The second-longest such streak belongs to Tjeerdsma and his crew.

A Bearcat win tomorrow would be the 16th consecutive victory over the Lions.