JOPLIN, Mo. — The Missouri Southern Lions hosted the number 19th ranked Missouri Western Griffons for the last game of the season ‘Senior Day’ Saturday afternoon.

The Lions complete the comeback and pull off a massive upset over Missouri Western 47-41 in double OT. Southern finishes the 2023 season 5-6 and 4-6 in MIAA play. The best season since 2013 when MSSU had a 7-3 record.

Missouri Southern was trailing 31-13 late in the third. A 16-yard passing touchdown from Luke Sampson to Jaedon Stoshak cut the deficit to 11.

Southern defense held Missouri Western to a field goal early in the fourth. With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Ian McSwain scores on a 50-yard pick-six. Lions trailing by eight 34-26. MSSU gets the ball back on their 19-yard line with 32 seconds left in regulation with no timeouts. They drive the length of the field in 29 seconds and score on a 16-yard passing TD from Sampson to Deontay Campbell to put Missouri Southern within two. Southern has to go for two to stay in the game and a game-tying two-point conversion to Ezekiel Lang from Sampson sends the game into overtime.

In overtime, the Lions scores first with 1-yard rushing touchdown by Akeem Gilmore to take a 41-34 lead. But, the Griffons responded with a touchdown to tie the game up at 41 forcing a second overtime.

In double overtime, Southern defense took the field first and Nick Kruse comes up with an interception. Now, MSSU could win the game with a touchdown and they do with a four-yard rushing touchdown by Anthodius Ashley. 47-41 final score.

Offensively, redshirt sophomore quarterback Sampson threw for 374 on 24 of 36 passing attempts with four touchdowns. He connected to seven different receivers. Stoshak led Southern with seven catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Deontay Campbell finished the day catching six passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. Ezekiel Lang caught five passes for 66 yards and the game-tying two-point conversion to force overtime. Ashley only had one catch for 54 yards and rushed for 27 yards on seven carries and the game-winning touchdown in double OT. David Bethune had two catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. Akeem Gilmore had one lone catch for 17 yards while Nic Panella had two catches for 8 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Southern forced three turnovers all interceptions. The first interception came from Carmelo Hollingsworth in the first quarter. Then, the second interception was in the fourth quarter by McSwain resulting in a 50-yard pick-six. The last pick appeared in the second overtime by Nick Kruse. Both Evrin Hawkins and Colton Bass led the Lions with nine tackles.

What a way to end the season!

Ian McSwain said, “It hasn’t been since 2013, since we got five wins and our coaching staff has been very good. It’s very nice to send all the seniors out on a big win.”

Jaedon Stoshak said, “I mean, it was huge and doing something that hasn’t been done here in a decade, you know, it’s to some people might not seem like a lot, but to this program, it means a lot. So finishing off that way was awesome. Never been in overtime gave me that was the first one I’ve been in so that was fun.”