Pitt State grinds out win over Missouri Southern in Miners Bowl

The Gorillas top the Lions 20-16 on Saturday.

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Pittsburg State Gorillas and Missouri Southern Lions squared off in the Miners Bowl on Saturday. The rivalry between the two schools has been lopsided over the past handful of years. The Gorillas have won the matchup 25 of the last 26 meetings.

This year, Pittsburg State came away with another victory over Missouri Southern, but the game itself was a battle to the end.

“We did not back down from a challenge,” says MSSU head coach, Atiba Bradley. “We did not back down from them. Our kids continue to battle, our kids continue to fight, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

Pittsburg State regained the lead in the final five minutes, ultimately winning 20-16.

It was the play leading up to that touchdown, a 51-yard punt return, that changed the game for the Gorillas.

“It took that return by Caleb to get us a little momentum and wake us up on the sideline,” says PSU head coach, Brian Wright.

Missouri Southern struggled to find the end zone all day. The Lions settled for three field goals in the first three quarters.

“We drove up and down the field,” Bradley says. “We had success. We controlled the clock, we moved the ball and I thought we were more physical than them at times. If you turn those field goals into touchdowns the game is a lot different.”

The Pitt State defense put on a strong performance.

“The defense had our back all day,” says PSU quarterback, Mak Sexton. “I went down and threw the pick and they stopped them for the rest of the half. They were huge. They kept picking us up, so I’m very thankful for them.”

“They certainly kept us in the football game the entire 60 minutes, and we certainly needed them to because we weren’t playing very well at all on the offensive side,” Wright says.

Still, PSU managed to get the job done.

“We haven’t really faced adversity like that all year so it was good to see the team come out and respond,” Sexton says. “Not happy with it, but a dub is a dub.”

“Any time you win in a close one it shows you have grit,” says PSU linebacker, PJ Sarwinski. “It shows you have grit on your team and you know how to win. Great teams, good teams do that. They know how to win in the end even when you’re struggling.”

Both teams hit the road next weekend. Pittsburg state travels to Northwest for a big game, while Missouri Southern plays at Lincoln.