Big plays doom Lions in 45-30 loss at Lindenwood

St. Charles, Mo. -- Missouri Southern took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and scored on its next drive, but Lindenwood scored 31 unanswered points en route to a 45-30 win over the Lions in St. Charles today. 

Southern (5-4, 4-4 MIAA) picked up a quick score as Travis Hurd took the opening kickoff back 90 yards to put the Lions up 7-0. Ne'Ronte Threatt capped off an eight-play, 80-yard drive in the Lions' next possession to give Southern a 14-0 lead with 6:22 left in the first. 

But Lindenwood (6-3, 5-3 MIAA) answered back. LU utilized the big play as quarterback Dustin Miller hooked up with Andrew Helmic for two passing touchdowns in the first half for 63 and 65 and Helmic added a punt return of 76 yards for a score to give the Lions a 31-14 lead with 5:58 to go in the first half. 

The Lions would score going into the locker room as Kellen Cox capped off a 13-play, 58-yard drive to make the halftime score 31-21. 

A 26-yard pass from Miller to Denodu O'Bryant on a screen play put Lindenwood up 38-21 and despite Southern scoring on a 29-yard field goal from Dallas Herndon and Hurd adding his second touchdown of the day, the damage was done. Lindenwood added another big play from Miller to Helmick, this time 73 yards to make the final tally 45-30. 

Cox had 111 yards on the ground and a score, while Threat rushed for 60 and a score and Hurd had 33 and two touchdowns (one rushing and another on kickoff return). Freshman Jay McDowell came in and played most of the fourth quarter, completing 6-11 for 110 yards. Threatt caught four passes for 62 yards, while Landon Zerkel and Bryant Venson had a catch each. 

Defensively, Gatlin Ridgway led the way for the Lions with seven tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. Alex Wong had six stops and a pass breakup, while Demond Horsley had an interception and Ryon Phillips added a sack. 

Lindenwood, however had huge days from Miller and Helmick. Miller completed 11-20 for 301 yards and four touchdowns, while Helmick had five catches for 218 yards and three scores. 

Southern had 392 yards of total offense to Lindenwood's 422, with 282 coming on the ground. The Lions had the ball for 17 more minutes than did Lindenwood, but big plays were the theme of the day. 

The Lions will be back in action next weekend, as Southern plays host to Truman in the John Ware Memorial Classic. Kickoff from Fred G. Hughes Stadium at the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex is slated for 3 pm.