EDMOND - A fourth-and-inches run for a first down from senior quarterback Kellen Cox sealed win No. 1 for Daryl Daye and the Lions took out Central Oklahoma 25-20 in the 2012 season opener Thursday night in Edmond.
Southern (1-0, 1-0 MIAA) ran the ball for 249 yards as nine different players had rushes. Cox led the attack with 20 carries for 89 yards and a score, while he was 4-8 through the air for 43 yards. Javonte Edwards had eight carries for 48 yards, while Anthony Thayer and Travis Hurd both added rushing touchdowns. Landon Zerkel caught four passes for 41 yards.
UCO (0-1, 0-1 MIAA) was led by quarterback Adrian Nelson as he went 14-26 through the air for 148 yards and one touchdown. Josh Birmingham had 19 carries for 83 yards and another score.
Central started the scoring off as the Bronchos took the opening drive down field and Christian Bobo capped off an eight-play, 59-yard scoring drive with a two-yard run.
The Lions answered back with a six-play, 29 yard drive where Thayer punched it in from six. The point after was no good, but on the ensuing possession, Jonathan Rodgers and Brandon Williams combined to sack Bronchos quarterback Nelson in the endzone for a safety, giving the Lions an 8-7 lead.
Southern added another score when Cox took the ball in from two to cap off an eight-play, 53-yard drive that took 4:02 off the clock. That would be the final score of the half as the Lions led 15-7 at the half.
Southern started off the scoring in the second half as Hurd rushed for 9 yards to give the Lions a 22-7 lead with 12:30 in the third. A 38-yard field goal from Dallas Herndon nearly 1- minutes later, capped an 8:08 minute drive for Southern and the Lions were up 25-7 with three minutes to go in the third.
The Lions defense was strong in the second half as Southern held the Bronchos without a first down until the 11:31 mark of the fourth, but UCO connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass and cut the Lions' lead to 24-14 with 8:40 left in the game.
A touchdown from Birmingham cut the lead to 25-20 and the two-point try was no good with 2:12 left in the game.
The Lions rushed the ball on each of its final plays and a fourth-and-inches scamper from Cox with 1:20 left in the game sealed the deal to get the Lions win No. 1 of the season.
Southern won the time of possession war holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes to UCO's 20. The Lions limited the Bronchos to just 57 offensive plays and 249 yards as the defense came up strong.
Brian Rodgers led the way with eight tackles and one pass break up, while Gatlin Ridgway added six stops. Williams, Breon Matlock and Ryon Phillips all had five stops, as Williams and Rogers combined to sack Nelson in the endzone for a safety. Matlock added an interception for 25 yards. The Lions had three stops behind the line of scrimmage and two fumble recoveries.
Southern will be back in action next weekend as the Lions prepare for their home opener against Northeastern State at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8.
The game will kick off a year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of Missouri Southern and the Lions will honor the 40th anniversary of the 1972 NAIA National Championship.