Defense comes up big in second half in 17-14 win at Northeastern State

Tahlequah, Okla. -- The Missouri Southern defense came up big in the second-half, holding Northeastern State scoreless in the second half and limiting the RiverHawks to just 90 yards, as the Lions defeated NSU 17-14 today in action at Doc Wadley Stadium. 

Southern (2-0, 2-0 MIAA) out gained NSU 303 to 281 in the game, with 218 yards on the ground for the Lions and 85 yards through the air.

NSU (0-2, 0-2 MIAA) picked up a solid defensive effort, as well, as the RiverHawks held the Lions scoreless, as well in the final frame. Langston Jones led all tacklers with 21 stops in the game. 

Both teams scored on their possessions in the first quarter, as NSU took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards on nine plays and Nick Whitlow caught a six-yard pass from Thor Long to put the RiverHawks on top 7-0 early on. 

The Lions answered back and Giresse Forchu had a nine-yard run with 6:04 left in the quarter to cap off a nine-play, 72 yard drive of their own to tie the game. However, the RiverHawks would put together a ten-play, 90-yard drive to end the quarter and go up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was all Lions. Southern held the ball for 13:15 of the 15 minutes in the quarter. Jay McDowell capped off an 11-play, 64-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 9:56 left in the half. Sean Seefeldt added a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Lions a 17-14 lead at the half. 

Neither team scored in the third quarter and with NSU driving, Gaige Washington intercepted a Long pass in the endzone to stop the drive. The Lions, however, couldn't capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt for the fifth time in the second half. 

After the Lions punted, NSU was forced with a fourth down try and Ryon Phillips came up with a big stop and gave Southern the ball back with 3:41 left in the game. Southern would hold on for the victory as a last-second punt by Stewart Quinn ran out the clock. 

The Lions held the ball for 33 minutes in the game and again won the time of possession battle as NSU had 26 minutes on offense. 

Giresse Forchu led the rushing attack for the Lions as the sophomore had 81 yards and a touchdown. Jay McDowell had 62 yards on the ground and a touchdown and he completed 3-5 passes for 38 yards. Seefeldt had the game-winning field goal, a 31 yarder in the second. 

Defensively, Gatlin Ridgway had seven tackles, including one for a loss and a quarterback hurry, while Jason Brown had six stops and Dalvin Taylor picked up five. Washington had an interception in the game. 

The Lions will be back in action next weekend when Southern plays host to Lincoln University at 2:37 pm inside Fred G. Hughes Stadium. The game will be part of the MIAA TV network and will be Hall of Fame weekend as the Lions induct Bryce Darnell, Seth Isringhausen, Yancy McKnight and Stacy (Harter) Smith to the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame.