Southern football falls 31-24 at Emporia State

Emporia, Kan. --  It was a tale of two halves as the Missouri Southern football team went into the locker room up 17-0, but Emporia State outscored the Lions 31-7 in the second half to come-from-behind and win 31-24 today in Emporia. 

Southern (1-4, 1-4 MIAA) was 4-5 in the red-zone today and held a more than three-minute advantage in time of possession, but Emporia (2-4, 1-4 MIAA) out gained the Lions by nearly 100 yards. Emporia had 365 of its 482 yards in the second half. 

Steven Sumpter carried the ball 22 times for 101 yards and a touchdown, while Collin Howard was 17-31 for 153 yards. JJ Jones had one carry for 56 yards, while Kyle Webster and Howard both gained 30 and 17 yards on the ground, respectively. Anthony Westfield had two carries, both for touchdowns. Ne'Ronte Threatt had six catches for 52 yards, while Landon Zerkel had four catches for 51. Cody Montee had five punts for an average of 39.4 today and Eric Murdock was 1-2 in field goals, making from 34, but missing from 46.

Defensively the Lions were led by Brian Rodgers with 16 tackles, 14 solo. Alex Wong had ten tackles, while CJ Broades added nine. Ryon Phillips had three tackles for a loss, while Kenny Smith added two sacks for a loss of nine yards and a forced fumble. 

Southern scored on its opening possession for the third-straight game as Westfield plunged into the endzone from one yard out to cap off a nine play, 74 yard possession that lasted 4:19. Murdock hit a 36 yard field goal to make the lead 10-0 in the second quarter and Sumpter capped off a 16 play, 80 drive with a one-yard touchdown run to make the score 17-0 going into halftime

The second half, more specifically, the fourth quarter was all Emporia. The Hornets got on the board with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Eckenrode to Shjuan Richardson with 1:46 left in the third quarter. Southern would go back on top 24-14 after Westfield picked up his second touchdown run of the day. 

After the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, Richardson caught a 60-yard pass and score from Eckenrode to cut the Lions lead to three at 24-21. The Lions looked as if they'd struck right back but a touchdown return from Threatt was called back due to an illegal block. 

Southern's defense got the Lions the ball back, but after two-straight first downs and a completion to Threatt for six yards, Webster fumbled the ball away at the Lions 36 and Emporia capitalized with a 22-yard field goal from Zak King to tie the game. The Lions would be forced to punt on its next possession and Eckenrode hit RayRay Davis for a six-yard touchdown pass to go up 31-24. A last-ditch effort from the Lions got Southern to the Emporia 31 yard line but Howard's pass in the endzone as time expired was no good. 

The Lions will be back in action next Saturday as Southern plays host to Truman State at 1 pm in Hughes Stadium.