Rapid City, SD -- The Missouri Southern football team raced out to a 28-6 lead en route to a 45-20 win at South Dakota Mines today in non-conference action.
The Lions (5-1) win for the second year in a row over the Hardrockers (4-2). It's the first time since 1996 that Southern has been 5-1 and it also gives the Lions an 11-1 record against their last 12 non-conference opponents.
Southern started the scoring with a 76-yard touchdown run from Michael Nelson on the Lions' first drive from scrimmage. Chris Barnwell added a one-yard touchdown with 2:24 left to go in the first quarter to put Southern up 14-0.
Mines added a touchdown pass from Evan Sanders to Derek Graves for 20 yards, but the point after was no good, making the score 14-6 early in the second quarter.
Jay McDowell then hooked up with Will Cuffee for separate touchdown pass and catches of 59 and 58 yards to go up 28-6 with 4:32 left in the half. A Sanders pass to Chriss Sawdey made the halftime score 28-13.
Barnwell scored four minutes into the third quarter to make the score 35-13 and Sanders kept it on a quarterback keeper in the third to cut the Lions' lead to 35-20.
The Lions had 430 yards rushing and 125 yards through the air. Southern held the time of possession lead with 37 minutes to Mines' 23 and the Lions were 4-9 on third down conversions and 1-2 on fourth down tries.
McDowell had 14 carries for 95 yards, while completing 3-6 passing for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Cuffee caught all three passes for 125 yards and two scores. Nelson had six carries for 103 yards and a score, while Barnwell had 81 yards and Giresse Forchu picked up 45 on the ground.
Defensively Gatlin Ridgway led the Lions with 12 tackles and 2.5 for a loss of six yards. Johnquavious McBride had eight stops and a pass break up, while Dalvin Taylor had seven stops. Gaige Washington, Xaiver Graham and Brennen Nora had five tackles each.
The Lions will be back in action next week when Southern plays host to sixth ranked Missouri Western at 6 pm inside Fred G. Hughes Stadium. The game will feature a reunion of the 1993 MIAA Championship team.