Southern breaks Western’s streak 31-30

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Dom Thomas makes a run against Missouri Southern in the Homecoming Game on Saturday Oct. 13

Missouri Western football suffered its first loss of the season in heartbreaking fashion as Missouri Southern upset the Griffons 31-30 on Homecoming at Spratt Stadium.  The Griffons are 6-1 on the season.

“We outplayed them really and probably should have had them put away in the first half,” coach Jerry Partridge said.  “We didn’t make enough plays obviously to win.”

The game was delayed for nearly and hour by lightning with 3 minutes and 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter with the Griffons leading 30-24 and Southern in possession of the ball at its own 37-yard line.

When play resumed, the Lions put together a scoring drive which ended in a 1-yard run by JJ Jones.  The extra point put Southern ahead by one point.

“We needed to step up and make a stop,” said linebacker Stephen Juergens, who led the Griffons with 11 tackles. “I can blame myself; I missed a tackle on that last drive.”

Western got the ball back with two minutes left on the clock, but turned the ball over on a fumbled exchange.  The Griffons stopped the Lions on the next three plays and forced a punt, then used all of their timeouts to stop the clock, which gave the offense 40 seconds to try and put together one last game-winning drive.

It wasn’t meant to be as quarterback Travis Partridge threw his only interception of the day, and Southern ran out the clock for the one-point win.

“We do it all the time, and we felt like we could get it done,” receiver Kyle Knox said about failing to score on the final two possessions.  The Griffons six-point lead in the fourth quarter came from two Taylor Anderson field goals.  Knox felt Southern gained momentum when the Griffons were unable to score a touchdown on those two drives.

Coach Partridge felt there were several instances where there was error on the part of the officials and was arguing with them in the first half.

“It was difficult to deal with,” Partridge said. “Anybody that has been a part of sports; this happens.  You just have to deal with it and pick up the pieces and play.”

The Griffons offense outgained Southern 493 yards to 374 and was only forced to punt once. Partridge threw for 233 yards, connecting on 20 of 27 attempted passes, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Reggie Jordan in the first quarter.  Partridge also ran for 67 yards and a touchdown as part of the Griffon ground game that netted 260 yards.

Michael Hill was held to 53 yards rushing on 14 attempts and kept out of the end zone.  Despite the loss, Hill is staying optimistic about this season.

“I’ve lost games like this before,” Hill said.  “Things happen and it’s better off that we know that we aren’t going to roll over people.  Now we can move on with more focus and work our butts off.”

Jordan scored his second touchdown of the day as he ran a fake punt 86 yards for the score in the second quarter.

Knox led the Griffons in receiving with 103 yards on five catches. Derek Libby hauled in three catches for 41 yards while Tyron Crockom caught five for 33 yards.

Anderson made all three of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yard kick that sailed through the uprights.

The Griffons will try and bounce back against No. 7 Pittsburg State at 2 p.m. next Saturday, Oc. 20, in Pittsburg, Kan.

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