Joplin, Mo. -- Five field goals from Missouri Western kicker Greg Zuerlein, including a school-record 57-yarder helped do in the Lions today as Southern fell to Western on Homecoming, 35-23.
The Lions (1-3, 1-3 MIAA) had more offensive yards than Western (406-383), but couldn't overcome the foot of Zuerlein as Western (3-2, 2-2 MIAA) avenged two-straight losses to Southern.
The Lions were led offensively by Landon Zerkel as the junior had 106 yards on seven catches for his second-straight 100+ yard game. Ne'Ronte Threatt had 46 yards and a touchdown, while Austin Lepper had 27 yards and his first collegiate touchdown catch. Steven Sumpter had 65 yards and a score on the ground, while he caught five passes for 56 yards, as well. Collin Howard started and went 12-23 for 156 yards and a touchdown, but left in the second half with an injury. Blake McDonald was 8-14 for 66 yards, while Kyle Webster was 5-8 for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Lions were led by Brian Rodgers with 14 tackles, nine solo, and an interception. Breon Matlock had 11 stops, while Alex Wong and Richard Williams had nine and eight, respectively. Kenny Smith and Brandon Williams each had a sack, while Wong and Gary Combs combined for another.
Southern started the scoring and on the opening drive took the ball on its own 21 and drove the length of the field for a score. Sumpter capped off the 12 play, 79-yard scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown scamper.
From there, Zuerlein hit three-straight field goals, including a school-record 57-yarder to put the Griffons up 9-7. A touchdown pass from Travis Partridge to Adam Clausen for eight yards made the score 16-7, after the two-point attempt failed. Southern's Eric Murdock would hit a 48-yard field goal as time was winding down in the half to make the halftime score 16-10, Western.
Partridge would run for a 46-yard touchdown score to open up the third quarter and another field goal from Zuerlein, this time from 34-yards, would make the score 25-10, Western with 10:27 left in the third quarter.
A touchdown pass from Howard to Lepper would make the score 25-16 as the extra point failed, but another field goal from Zuerlein, this time from 47, increased the lead for Western to 12 (28-16) with 14:22 to play in the fourth. The Lions would get the score down to five with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Webster to Threatt, but a six-yard run from Partridge for a score would put the game away with 5:39 left to play.
Southern will be back in action next Satruday ad the Lions travel to Emporia to take on Emporia State at 1 pm.