MSSU football seeks first three-game win streak since 2013

·3 min read

Oct. 23—Another week, another opportunity for Atiba Bradley and his Missouri Southern football program to take down an infamous streak.

A week after claiming its first win over Central Missouri since 2013, Southern now shifts its attention to an Emporia State team it hasn't defeated since 2009.

The Lions (3-4, 3-4 MIAA) kickoff against the Hornets (3-4, 3-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Welch Stadium in Hays, Kan.

MSSU, coming off a 30-28 win over the Mules in a game that saw Nick Williams deliver a game-winning field goal in the final seconds, rides its first two-game win streak since 2014. A victory on Saturday would mark the program's first three-game win streak since the start of the 2013 season.

"I think when you start to get rewarded for your hard work, it's easy to continue the hard work," Bradley said Wednesday in a weekly press conference at MSSU's North Endzone Facility. "Now that they're starting to see the results, I think it's made them hungrier."

The Lions have already clinched their winningest season in seven years. With three more triumphs in the final four weeks of the regular season, Southern would secure its first winning season in eight years.

"I think it's important because they (MSSU players) get to see what they were sold whenever they were recruited here," Bradley said. "When you look at Jojo (Richard Jordan Jr.), he made a comment about it postgame (last Saturday). Like, 'Hey, I appreciate you guys sticking with me since 2018.' These guys have been through some things. They've been through three coaching changes. They've been through some blowout losses. They haven't had these close wins. So, man, for the fans, for them, it's really good to start to have some positive streaks."

Southern is now tasked with toppling an ESU team that's coming off back-to-back losses to Central Missouri and Nebraska-Kearney. The Hornets opened the campaign with wins over Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma but have gone 1-4 since.

"This team should be 6-1 and could be 7-0," Bradley said of ESU. "Every game they've lost has been by one score. ... They present some issues. But just like any other team, we have to find a way to go out and battle."

ESU features the MIAA's top passing offense, averaging 339.3 yards per game through the air. In total, the Hornets are averaging 34.5 points and 484 yards of total offense per game.

Emporia State's pass-heavy offense will be challenged by a Southern defense that's surrendering 206.6 passing yards per outing — the best clip in the conference. The Lions also rank second in the conference with nine interceptions. Sophomore defensive back Dylan Bolden is second individually in the league with five interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns.

Linebackers Richard Jordan Jr. and Colton Winder lead MSSU in tackles with 70 and 54, respectively. Jordan has also logged 3 1/2 sacks as well as 10 1/2 tackles for loss.

Offensively, the Lions are led by quarterback Dawson Herl, who has completed 57.9% of his passes for 1,277 yards and seven touchdowns. His top target, wide receiver Brian Boyd Jr., has 28 catches for 471 yards and five touchdowns.

True freshman running back Nathan Glades leads MSSU in the ground attack with 566 yards and five touchdowns on 108 carries. Josh Mercer has added 226 yards and three touchdowns on just 26 carries.

A radio broadcast of Saturday's game will be provided by Fox Sports Joplin (FM 101.3 and AM 1560).

Contact Jared Porter on Twitter at @JaredRyanPorter.

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