College Sports

MSSU to face Nebraska-Kearney in opener Thursday

The Lions will face the Lopers at 6 PM

MSSU on UNK
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MSSU on UNK

JOPLIN, Mo. - RELEASE FROM MISSOURI SOUTHERN ATHLETICS:

The Missouri Southern football team will start the 2019 season under new leadership as Head Coach Jeff Sims and the Lions play host to the University of Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday evening. Kickoff from Fred G. Hughes Stadium inside the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex is slated for 6 pm. 

Game Information
Team Records: MSSU 0-0, 0-0 MIAA | UNK 0-0, 0-0 MIAA
Date: Thursday, September 5, 2019
Kick-Off: 6:00 pm, CT
Location:  Joplin, Mo.
Site: Fred G. Hughes Stadium  (7,000)
Series Record:  UNK leads series 10-7
Coaches Jeff Sims (0-0 at MSSU, 0-0 overall - first year as a 4-year head coach) | Josh Lynn (8-14 at UNK, 45-41 overall)

Media Coverage
MSSU Radio: Fox Sports Joplin 101.3, 101.7 and AM 1560; 88.7 FM KXMS - Mike McClure, Play-by-Play, Scott Boudreaux, Color
Video Webcast: http://www.themiaanetwork.com/mssulions
Live Stats: https://www.mssulions.com.com/sidearmstats/football/summary
Lions on Facebook:  Facebook.com/mososports
Lions on Twitter: @mososports; @mosofootball

The Series : Nebraska-Kearney holds a 10-7 record in the overall series, however the two teams have only played each other five times since the 1988 season (three Lions wins) the last year Southern participated as a member of the NAIA and the Central States Intercollegiate Conference. The series features one of the most unique situations as both teams historically have been better at the other team's facility. The Lions are 2-6 at home, while 5-3 in Kearney. UNK won the first four meetings, but Southern took the next three. The Lions have won three out of the last four meetings. 

The Dish On The Lopers: The Lopers had another improvement in year two of coach Josh Lynn. After going 3-8 in year one, the Lopers responded and went 5-6 in year two. UNK has a depth of senior leadership on its two-deep as seven seniors start on defense and six start on offense. Quarterback Alex McGinnis is back for the Lopers under center this year. The senior threw for 1,364 yards and ran for 471 last year, while picking up six scores through the air and on the ground. Darius Webb is back as the lead rusher as he had just shy of 1,000 yards in 2018. Webb had 162 carries for 998 yards and ten scores. Through the air, McGinnis has three returners that saw action last year with Montrez Jackson picking up 18 receptions and nearly 400 yards with a score, while Luke Quinn and Daton Sealey had nine receptions each. Defensively, Sal Silvio leads the charge for the Lopers from his middle linebacker position. Silviohad 108 tackles last year with 4.5 for a loss and three forced fumbles. The Lopers will be back in action next week playing host to Central Oklahoma at 7 pm in Kearney. 

A Victory vs. UNK Would: be the fourth in the last six meetings between the two teams. It would be the first season-opening win for the Lions since 2013 when the team started the season 3-0.

NFL Representation: The Lions will have Brandon Williams as the lone MSSU alum in the NFL this season. Williams has blossomed into one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL and in 2017 became one of the highest-paid, as well, signing a five-year, $54 million contract. 

NFL Executive: Former Lion and former NFL wide receiver James Thrash is in his second season serving as the NFL and NFLPA's Appeals Officer. He hears all appeals for the NFL regarding on-field player discipline. Thrash played 12 seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.  

Lions On Radio: The Lions will partner with Fox Sports Joplin this year as Southern can now be heard on three separate FM stations, as well as an AM station. Fox Sports Joplin will air the Lions' games on 101.3 and 101.7 FM, as well as AM 1560. MSSU's KXMS 88.7 will also simulcast the games giving the Lions a larger reach in the four-states than they've ever had.  

Tough League/Region: The MIAA has two teams in the coaches top 25 this week. Northwest Missouri is 6th, while Fort Hays State is 11th. The Super Region Three, which the Lions are a part of, has three teams in the top ten and has four teams in the top 25. There are 19 teams total that are either ranked or receiving votes in the poll from the region. 

Lions On TV:  Missouri Southern's KGCS will air every Lions home game live this year during the season. They will also re-broadcast the games on Sunday evenings at 7 pm.   

Lions On The Web:  All of MSSU's football games are carried live online as part of the MIAA Network. Fans can go to www.mssulions.com to view live and on-demand games.  

Streaming Options:  Fans now have even more options to view the Lions online in their homes and on the road. Not only can you view on your computer, fans can now view The MIAA Network on its over the top apps for either Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Android TV.   

New Head Coach: Jeff Sims was announced as the new head coach for the Lions at the conclusion of the 2018 football season. 

NFL Pedigree: In his career, Sims has coached more than 50 players to NFL careers, including two first-round NFL Draft picks, (Jason Pierre-Paul and Mike Hughes), well as NFL All-Pro Lavonte Davis. In total, seven players he has coached have been drafted. Two former players, Pierre-Paul and Jacquian Williams, both played for the New York Giants in a Super Bowl victory.

Welcome Aboard: The Lions will feature a roster full of newcomers as the team signed a class of 64 and brought more than 30 additional players on since signing day.         

Division I Transfers: Southern has ten Division I transfers on its roster, whether it be from the FBS or FCS ranks.   

Experienced Coaching Staff: The Lions have nine assistant coaches on staff, with most of them either serving time as an assistant with Jeff Sims, or playing/coaching under him.  

Returning Starters: On the offensive side of the ball, Dalton James and Aiden Brown return as starters, while last year's starting quarterback Sean Kelly is the top backup. On the defensive side, Levi Marlay and Richard Jordan Jr. return to the starting lineup. 

Park It: Former Iowa State starting quarterback Jacob Park is listed as the probable starter for the Lions. Park was a Maxwell Award Watchlist member in 2017 for the Cyclones where he spent time as the starter in each of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Park initially attended Georgia out of high school and transferred to NEO, but did not play. He was a member of the Elite 11 Quarterbacks his senior year of high school.   

Returning All-MIAA: Levi Marlay and Riley Hathorn both earned All-MIAA honors in 2018 and both return to the Lions for 2019.

Switch It Up: Riley Hathorn and Paul Wolff will be switching positions this year. The kickers will swap spots as Hathorn will now kick and Wolff will punt, the opposite of what they did in 2018. Ironically, the pair played these positions at their junior college stops, but were switched up at the start of the 2018 season.  

Hall of Fame: On October 19, former Missouri Southern head coach Jon Lantz will be inducted into the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame (posthumously). Lantz coached the Lions to the program's only MIAA Title in 1993 when the team went 9-1-1.

Watch Party Headquarters: For those wanting to catch the Lions on the road, but not able to travel, Gusanos in Joplin will host the official road watch party each Saturday. Come by their location at 7th and Duquesne to check out all the action.  

Tackling a Legacy:  Richard Jordan Jr., the son of Lions' Hall of Famer Richard Jordan Sr., is following in his father's footsteps rather nicely. 

Defensive Lineage:  Three former Lions' defensive coaches, all whom current assistant coach Joe Bettasso learned under, are in high-profile positions. Scottie Hazelton (04-05) is the Defensive Coordinator at Kansas State, Brian Ward (2005) is the Defensive Coordinator at Syracuse and Todd Wash (2004) is the Defensive Coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL.

Weather Report:  The weather report for the Joplin area on Thursday calls for a high of 90 and plenty of sunshine. Precipitation chance is listed at 10% with a southwest wind of 5 mph.     

Up Next:  The Lions will go out on the road next week traveling to Jefferson City, Mo. for a 6 pm matchup at Lincoln University.

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