Lions shutout Minnesota State-Moorhead 30-0 in season opener

Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern football team racked up 578 yards of total offense and recorded its first shutout since 2006, defeating Minnesota State-Moorhead 30-0 tonight in front of nearly 5,000 fans at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. 

The shutout was also the first home opening shutout since 2002 when the Lions shutout Greenville (NAIA) 63-0. Redshirt freshman running back Steven Sumpter had 141 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard score as the first quarter ended. The 141 yards for Sumpter are the most yards rushing for a freshman since Renard Johnson racked up 148 in the season opener in 2007 at Haskel and the most since Alley Broussard had 173 against Pittsburg State in that same year. 

The Lions, however, did show some signs of a typical first game of the year with two fumbles on the one yard line, as well as a couple 12-man on the field penalties.

"We certainly left a lot of room for improvement," head coach Bart Tatum said.  "We didn’t come out and peak early in the first game we have lots of time to improve and lots of room for improvement."

Collin Howard was 17-29 in the air for 230 yards. Landon Zerkel had six catches for 92 yards while Howard hit seven different receivers on the night. Ne'Ronte Threat had four catches for 62 yards. 

Cornell Gedward had nine carries for 65 yards while Anthon Aiono had seven carries for 27 yards and Anthony Westfield had a big carry for 29 yards. After not utilizing a fullback to rush the ball at all in 2009, the Lions had eight carries from their fullbacks tonight. 

Dallas Herndon made all three field goal attempts (23, 30 and 27 yards), as well, as each of his extra points, and Mark Krause had three punts for an average of 46.7 with one inside the 20. 

Defensively, Josh Woodard led the Lions with seven tackles, 1.5 for a loss of five yards and a forced fumble. Demond Horsely had five tackles, while Skyler Vandiver and Alex Wong had five stops each. Brandon Williams and Cody Furr teamed up for a sack and Brandon Dean had a sack and a forced fumble as time expired. 

"We said defensively we wanted our defense to control the line of scrimmage and our linebackers to play up to their potential," Tatum said." "I think for the most part we did that, we threw a shut out and we will find areas when we break down the film to improve on defensively."

Southern started its scoring with a one-yard run from Howard with 6:29 left in the first and Sumpter's first score as time expired in the opening quarter made the score 14-0 after one. A 23-yard field goal from Herndon gave the Lions a 17-0 lead at the half.

Another touchdown run from Sumpter, this time a 19-yarder and two more field goals from Herndon gave the Lions final 30-0 tally. 

Southern get's back in action next Saturday, September 4 when the Lions play host to Lincoln University at 6 pm in Hughes Stadium.