Mules stumble in Joplin, fall to Missouri Southern 21-14

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(JOPLIN, Mo.) – The Central Missouri Mules had their six-game winning streak against Missouri Southern snapped with a 21-14 loss to the Lions on Saturday night at Fred G. Hughes Stadium, according to a press release. The Mules were outgained 496-200 on the night, including 427-26 on the ground.

The Mules (2-3, 1-3 MIAA) got on the board first taking a 7-0 lead with 9:53 left in the opening quarter. Hayden Hawk hit Ronrei Lloyd for a 54-yard gain on the first play of the drive down to the MSSU 15. Then facing a fourth down Hawk hit Sean Gorman for a six-yard touchdown to put UCM in front.
The Lions (4-1, 4-1 MIAA) responded on the ensuing possession tying the game at 7-7 on a Jay McDowell two-yard touchdown run. McDowell had a 63-yard run earlier on the drive to set up first and goal at the UCM two yard line.
The Mules drove near midfield on their next possession, but the drive stalled and UCM was forced to punt. MSSU responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive to go in front 14-7 with 13:33 left in the first half.
Following another UCM three and out and just an 11-yard punt, the Lions added to their lead. A nine-play, 46-yard drive was capped off with a JJ Jones three-yard score to up their lead to 21-7, which they took into halftime.
The Mules put together a solid drive on their second possession of the second half driving into Missouri Southern territory. The Mules drove inside the Lion 25, but back-to-back incomplete passes on third and fourth downs turned the ball back over to Missouri Southern.
With neither team able to do much offensively in the second half, the Mules finally broke through midway through the fourth quarter. The Lions had the ball near midfield whenRicky Spratley stripped the ball away from Giresse Forchu to give UCM the ball in Lion territory. The Mules struck quick taking just five plays before Hawk found Ray Harris for a seven-yard scoring strike to pull within 21-14 with 8:09 left in the game.
The UCM defense came up big again, on a third and 15 from the UCM 48, Zach Leinbaugh picked off McDowell’s pass and returned it back to midfield. The Mules couldn’t capitalize, however, going three and out and punting. Gebhardt’s punt was downed at the MSSU six yard line.
A 49-yard gain, however, on first down gave the Lions the ball at the UCM 45 with just over two minutes to play. The Mule defense forced the Lions into a fourth and two with 1:53 to play, but a 22-yard run gave MSSU a first down at the UCM 15 and they were able to run out the clock from there.
The loss snaps a six-game winning streak for UCM in the series.
Hawk finished the game 16 of 32 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Lloyd had seven catches for 108 yards. Spratley led the defense with 14 tackles, including two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Ryan Berry finished with 11 tackles and Sam Smith had 10.
For Missouri Southern, McDowell rushed 21 times for 225 yards with a touchdown and he also added 69 yards passing. JJ Jones rushed just three times for 12 yards, but scored two touchdowns.
Gatlin Ridgway led the Southern defense with eight tackles, a sack, and a pass break up.
The Mules look to rebound next Saturday when they return home to host 10th-ranked Pittsburg State at 1:30 p.m. The game can be heard live on 1450 KOKO, 98.5 The Bar and with Shawn Jones, UCM Hall of Famer Bill Turnage and Greg Hassler on the call. The Mules Tailgate Show begins at 12:10 p.m.