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Southern FB Heads to NSU

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It's week 9 in the MIAA and the Missouri Southern Lions are still searching for their first win of the season. The Lions will be on the road against the Northeastern State Riverhawks this Saturday, and the matchup might be just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Lions team.

The Riverhawks are also winless heading into Saturday's game, and the Lions have won 9 of the last 14 meetings between the two teams.

MSSU head coach Denver Johnson says he's heard some displeasure from fans throughout the season, but he's not taking it as all negative. 

"You know it's not disappointing to me, it's not upsetting to me that people are disappointed. That's actually OK with me. That means they care," Johnson says, "It means there's some passion out there. What's getting a little bit irritating is that people are acting surprised. We're very young, we've said we were very young. I knew this was going to be the transitional year. All the juniors and seniors that were here when we got here are basically gone."

RELEASE FROM MISSOURI SOUTHERN ATHLETICS:

Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern football team will be back in action this weekend as the Lions will travel to Northeastern State on Saturday to take on the RiverHawks. Kickoff from Doc Wadley Stadium is slated for 2 pm.   

Game Information
Team Records: MSSU - 0-8, 0-8 MIAA | NSU 0-8, 0-8 MIAA
Date: Saturday, October 28, 2017
Kick-Off: 2 pm, CT
Location:  Joplin, Mo.
Site: Doc Wadley Stadium (8,300)
Series Record:  Northeastern State leads the series 11-9
CoachesDenver Johnson (3-27 at MSSU, 72-93 overall) | Rob Robinson (5-36 overall/at NSU)

Media Coverage
MSSU Radio: ESPN Joplin 101.3, 103.5 FM and AM 1560; 88.7 FM KXMS - Mike McClure, Play-by-Play, Scott Boudreaux, Color
Video Webcast: http://www.themiaanetwork.com/mssulions
Live Stats: http://sidearmstats.com/nsuok/football
Lions on Facebook:  Facebook.com/mososports
Lions on Twitter: @mososports; @mosofootball

The Series: This will be the 22nd meeting in the series between the two schools. Northeastern State leads the series 11-9, but the Lions have won nine of the last 14 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 4-6 in Tahlequah, while holding an 5-5 mark in Joplin with one game being vacated by the Lions in 1997. 

The Dish On The RiverHawks: The RiverHawks are 0-8 on the year and looking for their first win on the year. NSU averages 262 yards of total offense per game, while giving up 489 yards of total offense. The offense is led by quarterback Cade Yeager with 832 yards on 64-142 passing and nine touchdowns. Ra'Keim Abdul has 56 carries and 267 yards, while CJ Shavers has 69 carries and 189 yards. Gary McKnight is the top receiver with 29 receptions and 650 yards and six touchdowns. Isaiah Upshaw has 145 yards and one score, while Zac King has 249 yards and three touchdowns. La'More Wise leads the RiverHawks with 88 tackles, including 61 solo and five forced fumbles. Coleby Evans has 59 tackles, while Devon Siers has 45 tackles and one interception. Quincy Dotson has a team-high two sacks. NSU will be back in action next week when the RiverHawks travel to Central Missouri for a 1 pm kickoff. 

A Victory vs. Northeastern State Would:  stop a ten-game losing streak for the Lions and would be five wins in the last six tries over the RiverHawks.
    
NFL Representation: The Lions will have two different players on NFL rosters to start the season. Brandon Williams is a starter on the defensive line for the Baltimore Ravens, while Allen Barbre will be with the Denver Broncos this year. 

Show Me The Money: Brandon Williams has become a leader on the defense for the Baltimore Ravens, as well as the NFL. In the offseason, Williams became the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL and the eighth-highest paid defensive lineman when he signed a five-year, $54 million contract. 

NFL Executive: Former Lion and former NFL wide receiver James Thrash is in his second season serving as the NFL and NFLPA's Appeals Officer. He hears all appeals for the NFL regarding on-field player discipline. Thrash played 12 seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.  

Lions On Radio: The Lions will partner with ESPN Joplin this year as Southern can now be heard on three separate FM stations, as well as an AM station. ESPN Joplin will air the Lions' games on 101.3 and 103.5 FM, as well as AM 1560. MSSU's KXMS 88.7 will also simulcast the games giving the Lions a larger reach in the four-states than they've ever had.  

Tough League/Region: The MIAA has three teams in the coaches top 25 this week. Northwest Missouri is 1st, while Fort Hays State is 7th and Central Missouri si 23rd. The Super Region Three, which the Lions are a part of, has eight teams in the top 25. There are 12 teams total that are either ranked or receiving votes in the poll from the region. 

Lions On TV:  Missouri Southern's KGCS will air every Lions home game live this year during the season. They will also re-broadcast the games on Sunday evenings at 7 pm.   

Lions On The Web:  All of MSSU's football games are carried live online as part of the MIAA Network. Fans can go to www.mssulions.com to view live and on-demand games.  

Streaming Options:  Fans now have even more options to view the Lions online in their homes and on the road. Not only can you view on your computer, fans can now view The MIAA Network on its over the top apps for either Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Android TV. 

NCAA Team Stats Rankings:  The Lions rank eighth in fewest penalty yards and fewest penalty yards per game, while ranking tenth in fewest penalties and fewest penalties per game. The team also ranks 59th in blocked kicks and 56th in kickoff return defense. 

MIAA Team Stats Rankings:  Southern leads the MIAA in fewest penalties and penalty yards, while ranking fifth in tackles for a loss. The team also ranks sixth in punt return defense and fumbles lost (fewest), while ranking seventh in blocked punts allowed and blocked kicks. 

Individual Stats Rankings:  Individually, Roc Robbins ranks 20th nationally in fumble recoveries. Robbins ranks third in the MIAA in that category.  

Rush 'Em Up: The Lions nearly had two players with 100 or more yards rushing last week as Brayden Scott had 104 and Josh Hadley had 90.  

Rush Like A QB: Brayden Scott had three rushing touchdowns last week and went over the century mark with 104 yards on the ground. It was the first time since 2013 that the Lions had a quarterback rush for 100 yards when Jay McDowell had 119 at Pittsburg State.  

Special Teams Success:  The Missouri Southern special teams unit had a pretty good day against Nebraska-Kearney as the Lions got a blocked extra point from Mark Mudd, a blocked field goal from Carter Rees and a forced fumble from Brayden Scott that was recovered by Roc Robbins on fumble coverage.   

Spread The Wealth:  In four of the Lions' eight games this year, the Lions have thrown passes to at least nine different individuals. It was ten against Central Missouri. Against Emporia State and Washburn, that number was seven, against Northwest Missouri the number was eight and against UCO, the number was six. 

Behind the Line:  The Lions had eight tackles for a loss against Emporia State. Southern stopped the Hornets for a loss of 26 yards. 

Catching Fire:   Dante Vandeven has made the transition to wide receiver rather well. The former quarterback is second on the team in receiving yards with 263 and has an average of 14.6 yards per catch.    

NCAA Regional Rankings:   The first NCAA Division II Super Region Three poll came out this week. The MIAA has three teams in the poll with Northwest Missouri number one and Fort Hays No. 2. Central Missouri is No. 6.   

Season-Ending Injury:  Freshman Shemar Coleman has been ruled out for the season with a leg injury.      

Weather Report:  The weather report for the Tahlequah area on Saturday calls for a high of 50 and mostly sunny conditions with a zero percent chance of precipitation and winds out of the northwest at 12 mph. 

 Up Next:  Southern will have its final home game of the year as the Lions play host to Lindenwood for Senior Day on November 4.   

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