By Ben Johnson
Phoenix Staff Reports
TAHLEQUAH -- Sean Seefeldt's 31-yard field goal at the end of the first half proved to be the deciding blow as Missouri Southern escaped Doc Wadley Stadium with a 17-14 victory over Northeastern State on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions (2-0, 2-0 MIAA) ran for 281 yards and held NSU without any points in the second half to beat the RiverHawks for a second straight season.
"We were one play away from a victory," said Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans, whose club was a dropped pass away from beating Missouri Southern in 2012, too.
"...We stayed in the game. We didn't get the win, but we competed."
Joel Rockmore led the RiverHawks with 145 yards on 22 rushes.
NSU threatened to score twice in the fourth quarter, but both drives were halted inside the Lions' 40-yard line. With 8:35 left, NSU quarterback Thor Long was intercepted by Gaige Washington in the end zone, and at the 3:41 mark the RiverHawks failed to convert on a fourth-and-9 from their MIssouri Southern's 40-yard line.
NSU would never see the ball again.
The Lions would chew up the remaining three minutes and 41 seconds by picking up two first downs. Dominick O'Neill punted the ball out of bounds on the final play of the game.
The game started off as though it was going to be an offensive shootout. Both teams scored on their first two possessions.
NSU's Nick Whitlow put the RiverHawks in front with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Thor Long early in the first quarter, before Missouri Southern's Giresse Forchu responded with a 9-yard scoring run at the 6:04 mark of the opening quarter.
The RiverHawks would go back in front on a Terrance Dixon's 4-yard run with 41 seconds left in the first quarter, and Missouri Southern quarterback Jay McDowell ran for 1-yard touchdown with 9:56 left until halftime.
The Lions would force NSU to punt on its next possession, and Missouri Southern responded by cranking out a 14-play, 65-yard drive that lasted 8 minutes, 11 seconds. That's when Seefeldt capped it off with a kick through the uprights on the south end of the field.
Operating out of the triple option, Missouri Southern churned out 243 yards on 54 rushes. The Lions attempted on five passes and completed three for 38.
Getting his first career start with Johnny Deaton out with a leg injury, Long finished 7 of 16 for 85 yards for the RiverHawks.
On defense for the RiverHawks, Langston Jones came up with 21 tackles, four shy of a single-game record at NSU.
The RiverHawks will continue at home this week when they host Washburn at 6 p.m. on Saturday.