Joplin, Mo.. - A 30-yard touchdown pass from Roland Thompson to Landon Zerkel with 11:31 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner as the Missouri Southern football team defeated visiting Truman State, 20-16 today at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.
Southern (2-5, 2-4 MIAA) was out gained 350-302 and was a minus four in the turnover battle, but the Lions defense came up strong when they needed to holding Truman scoreless for the final 13 and a half minutes of the game.
Thompson completed 13-23 for 182 yards and two touchdowns, but was 8-10 in the second half. Toderick Hunt had 64 yards on the ground, while Thompson had 41 of his own. Daniel Thompson caught three passes for 69 yards and a score and Zerkel had two catches for 38 yards and the game-winning catch.
Andrew Gassen, in his first game back after suffering a concussion in the homecoming game against Nebraska-Omaha, was 2-2 in field goals with distances of 30 and and a career-high 47 yards. He also had three punts for an average of 46.3 yards, including a long 74 yard boot, and averaged 64.2 yards on kickoffs.
After both teams went scoreless in the first quarter, Truman (1-7, 0-6 MIAA) opened up the scoring with a three-yard run from Vaness Emokpae with seven minutes left in the first half. Gassen's first field goal of the day made it 7-3, before a 30-yarder from Truman kicker Mickey Masucci gave the Bulldogs a 10-3 lead at the half.
The Lions tied the game at ten after a 33-yard pass from Roland Thompson to Daniel Thompson with 6:52 left in the third, before another field goal from Masucci, this time a 23-yarder gave the Bulldogs a 13-10 advantage. Gassen's 47-yarder made it 13 all before a 26-yarder from Masucci, again gave the Bulldogs a three-point advantage.
The Lions put away Truman, however, with 11:31 left in the ball game, when Thompson hooked up with Zerkel as the redshirt freshman caught the ball inside the five and lunged to the end zone for the score.
Justin Cowper and Dusty Bratzler each had 12 tackles today with Cowper having two stops behind the line and three pass breakups. David Benham had nine tackles, while Rudy Mascaro and Andwoine Brown had eight each. Jairius Jarvis had four tackles, and a pass breakup, but two of the stops were sacks for a loss of ten yards. Nick Teer added a sack and a forced fumble of his own.
The Lions had eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage today, and seven pass break ups with three quarterback hurries.
Southern will be back in action next week as the Lions travel to St. Joseph to face off with 15th ranked Missouri Western at 1:30 pm. The Griffons defeated 14th ranked Central Missouri today.