Phillips' late sack helps secure a 3-0 start for MSSU as Lions win 21-14 at Lincoln

Jefferson City, Mo. -- Three rushing touchdowns by Kellen Cox and a sack by Ryon Phillips as time expired helped the Missouri Southern football team move to 3-0 as the Lions defeated Lincoln 21-14 in Jefferson City today. 

Southern (3-0, 3-0 MIAA) starts the season 3-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1996 season when the Lions went 4-0 to open up MIAA action. Southern is also 2-0 on the road to start the season for the first time since the 2004 season. 

Lincoln (0-3, 0-3 MIAA) is winless on the season and is still yet to win a game in MIAA play since they re-joined the league in 2010. 

The Lions didn't start the game off smooth as thinking he had coaxed the Blue Tigers offsides, Cox lofted the first pass of the game up for grabs, but Lincoln came down with an interception and no penalty was called. 

Southern's defense held strong, and after causing a turnover on downs, Cox rushed for a 62-yard touchdown to cap off a four-play drive and put the Lions up 7-0 early on. 

After Southern's defense held the Blue Tigers again to a punt, the Lions' special teams fumbled the punt and on the first play of the drive, LU ran a halfback pass from Andre Borney to Keenan Smith to tie the game at seven. 

The Lions would fumble another punt, but the defense again came up strong and held Lincoln scoreless the rest of the quarter. Brandon Williams would force a fumble of quarterback Jacob Morris and Alex Wong recovered leading directly to another Cox rushing touchdown, making the score 14-7, Lions. 

The defense would force another turnover as Demond Horsely picked off a pass from Morris on the ensuing drive, but Southern would turn the ball over on their following drive. After the Lions held Lincoln to a three and out, Cox added his third touchdown of the half, this time a one-yard run, to cap off a ten-play drive and put the Lions up 21-7 with two minutes left in the half. 

Lincoln would add a 50-yard touchdown pass from Lewis Larson to Devoyius Mark to end the half and make the score 21-14. 

Neither team would score in the second half, but the Lions had a chance to put the game away late. But a 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked, giving Lincoln the ball back on their own 34 yard line and 26 seconds left. The Blue Tigers drove to the Southern 28-yard line, but a sack from Phillips as time expired secured the win for the Lions. 

The Lions rushed for 295 yards with Cox accounting for 133 . Southern limited Lincoln to just 17 yards rushing and out-gained the Blue Tigers 347-257 overall. The Lions again dominated in time of possession, winning the war with more than 37 minutes in control. 

Cox had 25 carries for 133 yards and three touchdowns, while Travis Hurd and Ne'Ronte Threatt added 55 and 49 yards, respectively. Cox was 4-10 through the air for 52 yards, while Bryant Venson, Threatt, Michael Nelson and Landon Zerkel caught a pass each. 

Defensively, Williams had a game for the Lions. The senior led the team with six tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, a forced fumble and a half a sack. The sack moves him to 20.5 for his career as he passes Richard Jordan to move up to No. 2 all-time on the sacks list at Southern. He needs just 2.5 to tie Kent Shorten and three to become the sack king for the Lions. 

Aaron Hall, Brian Rodgers, and Wong had five tackles each with Wong picking up a fumble. Horsely added an interception, while Devon Dace had a half sack and Phillips picked up the game-ending sack. 

Southern will be back in action next Saturday as the Lions play host to Southwest Baptist at 6 pm at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. The game will be part of Hall of Fame Weekend at Southern and the school will induct four individuals into the Hall of Fame.