Story and photo courtesy of Missouri Southern Athletics
WARRENSBURG, Mo. - The Central Missouri Mules pulled away from the Missouri Southern Lions for a 35-10 win in front of 10,279 fans on Saturday afternoon at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field. The Mules led 21-10 at halftime and scored a touchdown in each quarter of the second half for the 25-point win.
The Mule defense forced a three and out on the first possession of the game and UCM got the ball near midfield. Colter Smith connected with Anthony Kirkwood for 19 yards before LaVance Taylor ran for 19 yards down to the MSSU 10. Taylor ran it in on the next play and the Mules (4-1, 4-1 MIAA) led 7-0.
The Lions (3-2, 3-2 MIAA) answered quickly. On a first and 10 from the Lion 37, Kellen Cox hit Landon Zerkel running free behind the secondary for a 63 yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7-all.
UCM came right back with a one-play scoring drive. Smith hit Ronrei Lloyd for a 77-yard catch and run on the first play of the drive to put the Mules back in front 14-7.
On the ensuing possession the Mules picked off Cox inside his own 15 and Adrian Perricone ran it back to the MSSU four yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Smith was intercepted in the endzone by Devon Dace. The Lions took the ensuing possession 74 yards in 13 plays, but the Mule defense stiffened in the redzone and forced a 23-yard field goal by Dallas Herndon to make it 14-10 Mules.
The Mules' next drive lasted 12 plays and covered 85 yards. Taylor scored his second touchown of the game, this one from three yards out to put UCM in frton 21-10.
The Lions threatened a few times the remainder of the half, but Herndon missed a 26 yard field goal and Paul Hughes intercepted a desperation heave at the end of the half to keep the lead at 11 going into the intermission.
The Mules took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove to the Lion 27, but a 45-yard field goal attempt by Aaron Jamieson was wide left.
Neither team was able to get much going throughout the quarter. The Mules final drive of the quarter started at their own 36 with 2:26 left in the third. Smith hit Lloyd three separate times on the drie including the final play, a 16-yard scoring strike to put UCM up 28-10.
The Lions first drive of the fourth quarter ended in another interception, this time by Alexis Reedus at the UCM 41 yard line. After a three and out the Mules pinned Missouri Southern inside their own 10 yard line. On the first play of the drive MSSU backup quarterback Jay McDowell was hit and fumbled. Rico Wilson recovered at the Southern seven. Two plays later Corey Washington took it in from six yards out and the Mules led 35-10.
Lloyd had a career day with eight catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns. His 197 receiving yards are the third most in a single game in UCM history. Colter Smith was 20-of-33 for 299 yards with two scores and an interception. As a team, the Mules rushed 24 times for 103 yards and three scores.
Defensively, Patrick Lewis led the Mules with 12 tackles. Zach Quines had 11 stops, including three tackles for loss and a sack. The Mules registered nine tackles for loss in the game, three sacks and picked off three passes.
The Mules out-gained the Lions 425-357 and forced five MSSU turnovers.
Cox was 5-of-12 for 131 yards and a score for the Lions. MSSU rushed 55 times for 151 yards in the game. Landon Zerkel had four catches for 150 yards and a score.
The Mules are back in action next Saturday when they travel to Pittsburg, Kan to take on the defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Pittsburg State Gorillas. Kickoff at Carnie Smith Stadium is set for 2 p.m.