Pittsburg, Kan. -- Five touchdowns from No. 9 Pittsburg State's John Brown lifted the Gorillas over Missouri Southern 51-28 in the regular season finale for both teams. The win, coupled with a Washburn loss today, gives PSU the 2011 MIAA Football Title.
Southern (3-7, 2-7) got a pair of passing touchdowns from Collin Howard as the senior went 23-42 in his final game for 245 yards. Ne'Ronte Threatt cought eight passes for 96 yards and two scores, while Landon Zerkel had eight catches, as well for 96 tards. Kyle Webster led the Lions' rushing attack with 91 yards on eight carries and one score. Bryant Venson had 59 yards on nine carries and a score.
Defensively, Southern was led by Brian Rodgers as the junior had a career-high 16 tackles, 12 solo and two for a loss. The 16 stops are tied for tenth-best in a game at Southern. Richard Williams had ten tackles, inlcuding one for a loss of five yards, while Alex Wong had eight stops. Demond Horsely had three tackles and an interception return for 28 yards, while Brandon Williams had three tackles and a sack.
The wind played havoc in the first half, as well as the game, as with the 25-30 mile per hour wind at their back, the Gorillas (9-1, 8-1 MIAA) scored 20 first-quarter points. Southern took the ball on its opening possession, but its punt went only to the Lions' 30 yard line and the Gorillas made the Lions pay with a four-yard touchdown run from Eric Love.
The Lions' next punt into the wind traveled only 19 yards and PSU's De'Vaunte Busby returned the ball for a touchdown. On the Gorillas' next possession, PSU started at its own 34 yard line and John Brown capped off the scoring drive with a four-yard touchdown to put the Gorillas up 20-0 after one quarter.
After an interception from Horsely, Southern opened up its scoring with a 29-yard touchdown run from Venson that capped off an eight play, 71 yard drive. The snap on the extra point was bobbled, but Kellen Cox recovered and ran the ball in for the two point conversion.
Pitt answered right back with a 76-yard touchdown pass and catch to Brown from Dickey, but the Lions returned the favor as Threatt and Howard hooked up for a 72-yard pass and catch of their own to get Southern to within 12 at 27-15. The Lions then sniffed out a punt and Justin Cobb stopped the PSU punter for a big loss, setting up a nine-yard touchdown run from Webster. A 29-yard field goal from Chase McCoy made the halftime score 30-22, PSU.
Southern took the ball to start the third quarter, but failed to convert and punted to their own 45 yard line. The Gorillas made the Lions pay and Brown scored on a one-yard run to put Pitt up 37-22 with ten minutes left in the third. Neither team would score for the rest of the third, but two more scores from Brown in the fourth put the game out of reach. A 22-yard pass and score from Howard to Threatt with eight seconds left made the final tally 51-28.
The game marked the final contest for ten of Missouri Southern's seniors. Collin Howard, Richard Williams, Terry Cellars, Maurlon Bembry, Jordon Schultz, Ian Saxton, Eric Botts, Brian Borgard, Maurice Pearl and Mike Wilburn all played their final game in green and gold.
Howard will go down as one of the best passers to wear a uniform at Missouri Southern. He finishes his career ranked third all-time in completions (427), fourth all-time in passing yardage (5,159), and fourth all time in total offense (5,954). He also had the tenth-most passing yardage in a single season this year (2,010), as well as the fifth-most passing touchdowns in a single season (15).
Zerkel has one more season in a Southern jersey and could top the list of most every receiving catergory when it's all said and done. He finishes this season second all-time in pass receptions (172) and needs just 78 to tie Colin Bado for No. 1 all-time. HIs 2,433 receiving yards rank third all time and he needs just 357 to move into second and 690 to pass Rod Smith for tops in that category. His 17 receiving touchdowns rank fourth all-time and he sits just one from tying for third and four from tying for second all-time. His 77 catches this year rank third all-time in a single-season, as well as his 1,047 receiving yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Brandon Williams picked up eight sacks this year which is tied for fourth in a single-season, but his 18.5 career sacks rank third all-time. He needs just two to move into second and five to be the all-time sacks leader at Southern.