Joplin, Mo -- Sixth ranked Northwest Missouri State scored 21 unanswered points to start the game and didn't look back as the Bearcats defeated Missouri Southern 49-21 tonight in front of 4,267 fans at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.
Southern (2-4, 0-4 MIAA) falls to 0-4 in the MIAA for the first time since 2001 when the Lions lost their first six games in league play. Collin Howard went 15-25 on the night with a touchdown and 195 yards but left in the second half with an injury after a Bearcats player hit him late on a run. Landon Zerkel caught eight passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. He had another touchdown called back because of penalty. Ne'Ronte Threatt and Cornell Gedward caught five and four passes each, with one of Threatt's going for a score. Gedward ran for 43 yards, including a long of 21.
Defensively, Dusty Bratzler led the Lions with eight tackles, while Alex Wong and Richard Williams had six and five, respectively. The Lions had a sack and a half from Brandon Williams, while Kenny Smith added a sack for a loss of eight yards and John Michael Bryant teamed up with Williams for a sack. Jabarri Wesley picked up a fumble with under a minute to go and ran back 88 yards for a score.
After going down 21-0 mid-way through the second quarter, Southern answered back as Howard orchestrated a nine-play, 84-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 16-yard pass and score to Threatt. The drive took 4:10 off the clock.
The score would be 35-7 at the half, after Northwest (4-1, 4-0 MIAA) quarterback Blake Bolles threw his third touchdown of the half, this time a 24-yard pass to Jake Soy.
Soy added another score in the third when the Bearcats took just one 53-yard pass to score and go up 42-7.
Howard was injured in the second half on a late hit, but Roland Thompson came in and threw a touchdown pass to Zerkel to cut the lead to 42-14. After another Bearcat score, Southern added Wesley's fumble return for the final tally.
Southern and Northwest both had 21 first downs, and Northwest led the Lions in rushing 120-110. The Bearcats, however, had a 384-203 advantage in passing and averaged 20.2 yards per pass. The Bearcats were penalized seven times for 36 yards, while the Lions picked up four penalties for 20.
Southern will be back in action next week when the Lions travel to Truman State for a 2 pm kickoff against the Bulldogs.