Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern football team will look to move to 2-0 on the season as the Lions travel to Tahlequah, Okla. to take on Northeastern State University in an MIAA TV Game of the Week. Kickoff is slated for 2:37 pm with the telecast beginning at 2:30 pm.
The Series: This will be the 18th meeting in the series between the two schools. Northeastern State leads the series 10-7, but the Lions have won seven of the last ten games between the two teams. Northeastern State was the Lions' first-ever opponent as a four-year school as NSU downed Southern 45-0 in 1968. The Riverhawks dominated the series early on, winning the first seven games in a row, but it has been mostly Southern over the last nine outings. The Lions are 3-5 in Tahlequah, while holding an 7-5 mark in Joplin.
The Coaches: Daryl Daye is in his second season as the head coach at Missouri Southern. Last year, he led the Lions to a 6-5 record, the first winning season since 2007. After installing a triple-option offensive attack, the Lions set school records for rushing yards and rushing attempts, while tying a school record for rushing touchdowns. Daye came back to Southern after serving two seasons with the NFL's Buffalo Bills as Assistant to the Head Coach. He assisted Defensive Coordinator Dave Wannstedt in coaching the inside linebackers and also helped to coach the special teams units. Prior to his stint with the Bills, Daye served for four years with the Lions as the team's defensive coordinator. In 2008, the Lions led the MIAA in pass defense. Southern held its opponents to 172 passing yards per game and recorded 58 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks and recovered all 15 fumbles the team forced.
The 2007 MSSU defense helped the Lions to their first winning season in 12 years. The defense led the MIAA in total defense for the 1st time in school history and also led the MIAA pass defense, opponents' first downs, passing efficiency and were ranked second in Opponents third and fourth down conversions. The Lions' defense was ranked 21st nationally in total defense and also broke a 17 year old division II school record with 21 interceptions. Coach Daye's defenses have now forced a total of 113 turnovers in 4 years.
Prior to Southern, Daye worked as special teams coach for the Southern University and also served as head coach at Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux, La., from 1999-2003, and as an assistant at Liberty, LSU and Southern Miss.
Kenny Evans is currently in his sixth season as head coach of the Northeastern State football program. He was named head coach in 2008 after 28 years as an assistant coach at six other universities. During that span, Evans coached in six bowl games, two national playoffs, and was part of a coaching staff that won eight conference championships. His ninth conference championship was added in 2010 as the RiverHawks posted their first winning season in 10 years. He has an overall record of 20-36.Before taking the NSU job, Evans coached linebackers at Louisiana Tech for Derek Dooley in 2008. In 2005, he was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year by the Football Foundation while coaching at the University of North Texas on the staff of Darrell Dickey.
The Dish on the RiverHawks: Northeastern State welcomes the Lions to Tahlequah, Okla. and Doc Wadley Stadium for the first time since 2002. NSU is coming off of a season-opening loss, 45-6 at 21st ranked Pittsburg State last Saturday.
Joel Rockmore led the rushing attack for the RiverHawks against Pitt. He carried the ball 19 times for 99 yards, averaging 5.2 per carry. Back-up quarterback Thor Long had five carries for 14 yards and the lone touchdown of the game. Starting quarterback Johnny Deaton was injured early in the game and did not return. His status for this week is unknown. Long went 6-16 in the air for 103 yards, while Jordan Robinson and Prince McJunkins had two receptions each.
Defensively, Langston Jones led the team with 12 stops, eight of which were solos. Victor Johnson had eight tackles, including a half a stop behind the line of scrimmage and Marquin Watts had five tackles of his own.
As a team, NSU trailed PSU 28-14 in first downs. PSU held an advantage of 354-117 in the passing game and 582-244 overall. Pitt sacked the RiverHawk quarterbacks three times for 18 yards and the Gorillas averaged 8.3 yards per play against NSU.
Northeastern State will stay at home next week, playing host to Washburn. The Ichabods are receiving votes in the coaches poll this week and are ranked 23rd in the d2football.com poll.