Big fourth quarter lifts 19th ranked Central Missouri over Lions, 27-17

Warrensburg, Mo. - Nineteenth ranked Central Missouri scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and rebounded from an early 10-0 deficit to defeat the Lions 27-17 today in Warrensburg.

Last week, it was the Lions (3-6, 3-5 MIAA) scoring points in the fourth quarter to overcome a deficit, but the tables were turned today as the Mules (8-2, 6-2 MIAA) scored 20 points in the fourth to defeat the Lions and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Southern scored first as the Lions took advantage of a fumble from the Mules' DeMarco Cosby that was recovered by Jabarri Wesley and returned 11 yards to the Central Missouri 45-yard line. Roland Thompson completed two passes for for 16 yards and ran for another 13, before Andrew Gassen booted a 29-yard field goal to put Southern up on top, 3-0.

Central turned the ball over on its first two possessions as on the first drive of the game, Nick Teer sacked quarterback Eric Czerniewski and forced a fumble that Domenique Butler recovered.

The Lions took a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter after Johnny Johnson capped off a 12-play drive that took up 61 yards and 3:38 off the clock when Johnson found the end zone on a four-yard run. Thompson completed passes of 24, 10 and 14 on the drive.

The Mules answered back quickly and after the Lions had a three and out, Central took just two plays to score when Czerniewski found Bobby Guillory for a 47-yard catch to cut the Lions' lead to 10-7 heading into halftime.

Neither team scored in the third, but Central scored just two minutes into the fourth on a one-yard run from Czerniewski. Guillory made the score 20-10 when he scampered to the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown. Each team added a late score for the final tally.

The Lions were out-gained 480-337 today, but were close in most every other category with the Mules. Central held a 20-19 advantage on first downs, and time of possession was nearly identical. Both teams had three turnovers with the Lions throwing three interceptions, but picking up three of the five Central Missouri fumbles. The big stat where Central had an advantage was on punt and kickoff returns. The Mules averaged 21.3 yards per punt return as opposed to the Lions 5.5 and 11.7 yards on kickoffs to the Lions' 4.4.

Thompson was the Lions leading rusher with 44 yards and a touchdown score. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He also went 21-47 for 239 yards. Landon Zerkel had 94 yards on seven catches, while Johnson and Toderick Hunt each rushed for 12 and 14 carries, respectively.

Defensively, Dusty Bratzler led the Lions with eight tackles and a pass breakup. Jairius Jarvis had a sack to bring his season total to 9.5, just a half sack from tying the single-season record at Southern. Teer also had a sack, while Antwoine Brown, Wesley, and Butler picked up fumble recoveries.

The Lions will wrap up the 2009 campaign next week as Southern plays host to Fort Hays State at 2 pm in Hughes Stadium. The Lions will honor their ten graduating seniors on Senior Day.