Touchdown pass to Zerkel lifts Lions over Truman State, 24-17

Joplin, Mo. -- A 27-yard touchdown pass from Collin Howard to Landon Zerkel midway through the fourth quarter proved to be game winner as the Missouri Southern Lions defeated Truman 24-17 today at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. 

The Lions (2-4, 2-4 MIAA) out gained the Bulldogs (2-5, 1-5 MIAA) 391-338, but the run defense came up strong, allowing just 75 yards rushing to Truman. 

Howard was 16-24 on the day with 197 yards and two touchdown passes and a touchdown on the ground. Zerkel caught nine passes for 115 yards and a score, while Ne'Ronte Threatt six catches for 58 yards and a score. Steven Sumpter had 87 yards on 23 carries. 

Defensively, Alex Wong, Ryon Phillips, and Brian Rodgers had a team high eight tackles each. Phillips had three sacks, including five tackles for a loss of 24 yards, while Rodgers and Breon Matlock had an interception each. Brandon Williams and Kenny Smith had a half a sack each, while Demon Haire had a sack of his own. 

Truman got on the board first as kicker Derek Koon connected from 19 yards out. The Lions tied it up when Eric Murdock hit a 45-yarder on the next possession. Both teams traded interceptions to start the second quarter, before Howard's seven-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 69-yard drive to put the Lions up 10-7 going into the half. 

Truman scored on its first posession of the second half, but the kick after failed, so the Lions re-tained a one point advantage at 10-9. Both teams traded punts before Rodgers' interception led directly to a Howard tocuhdown pass to Threatt when the two hooked up to put the Lions up 17-9 with 5:02 left in the third quarter. 

The Bulldogs scored on their next possession and converted the two-point conversion to tie the game at 17 with 3:40 left in the third. The Lions would answer, however, as Howard and Zerkel combined for the game-winning 27-yard touchdown pass and catch with 8:24 left to go in the game. 

The Lions' defense then finished out the game and held the Bulldogs to just one first down over the final 8:40, including three three and out drives. 

Southern will be back in action next weekend as the Lions will venture out of MIAA play to play host to Southwest Baptist. The game will center around Hall of Fame weekend for the Lions and will be part of the MIAA-TV package with a 2:07 pm start at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.