Bolivar, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern football team raced out to a 27-7 lead against Southwest Baptist, but the Bearcats would score 31 of the final 37 points to defeat the Lions for the second-straight year, 38-33 in Plaster Stadium.
Southern (3-1, 3-1 MIAA) had 293 yards in the first half, but just 148 in the second half. The Lions had three interceptions in the first half as Breon Matlock, Michael Burks and Gatlin Ridgway had picks.
SBU (1-3, 1-2 MIAA) would control the time of possession in the second half holding the ball 20 minutes to the Lions' 10.
Southern opened the game and drove the length of the field and for the fourth game in a row, the Lions scored on their opening drive as Michael Nelson took a pitch and went 17 yards for the score.
After a Bearcat punt, the Lions drove down the field and lined up for a 44-yard field goal and the kick from Sean Seefeldt was no good. The SBU drive wouldn't last long, however, as two plays into it, Matlock brought down a Willie Tindal pass for an interception Southern would turn that into points as Jay McDonald dove into the endzone to make it 13-0. The point after was no good.
On the very next drive, the Lions again had an interception, as this time, Burks picked off a Tindal pass and returned it 24 yards to the SBU 24 yard line. Chris Barnwell did all the work on the drive and turned the interception into a touchdown run as he ran the ball four times on the drive, giving the Lions a 20-0 lead.
The Bearcats answered back with a pair of touchdown passes for Tindal, one for ten yards to Derwyn Lauderdale and the other an 86-yard catch to Evan Ray. Those scores were sandwiched around a 23-yard Terrance Allen touchdown run as the Lions led 27-14 with 6:05 left to go in the half.
The Lions had the ball one more time in the half, but settled for a punt and gave the Bearcats the ball with 2:58 left to go in the half. SBU drove the length of the field and got to the Southern 18-yard line, but Ridgway came up with the Lions' third interception of the half as time expired, sending Southern into the locker room with a 27-14 lead.
The Bearcats scored the only points in the third quarter as Via Via Manuma capped off a seven-play, 79-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 12:55 left in the third to cut the score to 27-21, Lions. Tindal added a 50-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Mourick to give the Bearcats a 28-27 lead.
A 31-yard field goal gave the Bearcats a 31-27 lead and SBU would then convert an onside kick and score on the possession to go up 38-27 with 7:18 left in the fourth.
Southern added a late touchdown by Barnwell, a four-yard run to cap off an 11-play, 77 yard scoring drive. The two point conversion would not be good, setting the Lions up for an onside kick and trailing 38-33 with 1:03 left to go. SBU, however, would fall on the kick and run out the clock to end the game.
Offensively, Barnwell was the leading rusher for the second week in a row as the junior rushed for 120 yards on 18 carries and two scores. McDowell, Allen and Nelson all had rushing touchdowns. McDowell was 7-19 passing for 146 yards through the air.
Defensively, Ridgway led the attack for the Lions with nine stops, a sack and an interception. Demon Haire had eight tackles, while Brennen Nora, Ryon Phillips, Paco Varol and Eric Dago had a sack each as the Lions had five sacks tonight. Burks, Matlock added interceptions of their own.
The Lions finished with 315 yards rushing and 146 yards through the air for 461 yards of total offense. They held the ball for nearly 33 minutes, limiting SBU to 27 minutes with the ball. Southern was 1-2 on fourth-down conversions, but just 8-16 on third down tries. They scored 4-5 times when in the red zone.
Southern will be back in action next weekend when the Lions play host to Central Missouri on October 5. Kickoff from Fred G. Hughes Stadium is slated for 6 pm.