The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 27, 2012

Lindenwood roars back to top MSSU

The Joplin Globe

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Travis Hurd’s 90-yard return on the opening kickoff and an 80-yard touchdown drive on its first offensive series gave Missouri Southern a 14-0 advantage in the first nine minutes.

But Lindenwood’s Lions roared back with 31 unanswered points en route to a 45-30 victory Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at Hunter Stadium.

Andrew Helmick, 6-foot, 187-pound senior receiver from Kansas City, broke four long touchdowns to spark Lindenwood (6-3, 5-3 MIAA).

Helmick caught a 63-yard touchdown strike from Dillon Miller in the final minute of the first half for a 14-14 tie. After James Neal’s 29-yard field goal put Lindenwood ahead four minutes into the second half, Helmick caught a three-yard pass and turned it into a 65-yard TD after the Lions missed a tackle.

Just over two minutes later, Helmick raced 76 yards for a punt return touchdown and a 31-14 lead with 5:58 left in the second quarter. Television replays showed Helmick stepped out of bounds on consecutive steps near midfield, but the official who was positioned on the sideline made no call.

After Missouri Southern pulled within 38-30 on Hurd’s one-yard touchdown with 4:50 left, Miller found Helmick for a 73-yard touchdown play. Miller, a freshman making his second start, hit 11-of-20 passes for 301 yards, and Helmick caught five balls for 218 yards — breaking his own school record.

Missouri Southern (5-4, 4-4) struck quickly as Hurd fielded the opening kickoff, found a seam near the middle of the field and broke a tackle at midfield before racing to the end zone.

After a Lindenwood punt, the Lions covered 80 yards in eight plays, capped by Ne’Ronte Threatt’s 13-yard touchdown on a pitchout around right end. The drive also included gains of 22 yards by Threatt, 30 by Kellen Cox and 16 by Hurd.

Cox scored on a one-yard sneak late in the first half to make it 31-21 at the intermission. Missouri Southern trailed 38-21 when Dallas Herndon hit a 29-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Lindenwood held a 422-392 advantage in total offense.

The Lions rushed for 282 yards, led by Cox (18 carries for 111 yards) and Threatt (8 for 60). Backup quarterback Jay McDowell hit 6-of-11 passes for 110 yards, including four to Threatt for 62 yards.

“Our kids fought the whole game,” MSSU coach Daryl Daye said on his postgame radio show. “They didn’t go away. They wouldn’t quit. The stuff we have to fix with all the penalties (16 flags for 183 yards) — which is incredible — it’s fixable stuff.”

Missouri Southern, which averaged 5.75 penalties through eight games, had six penalties alone in the third quarter, including four in a five-play stretch on a drive that ended when the Lions turned the ball over on downs at the 12-yard line.

The Lions play their final two games at home — Saturday against Truman State and Nov. 10 against Pittsburg State.