Fort Hays State used an efficient offensive performance and strong play from its defense to down Missouri Southern by a score of 29-14 in Hays on Saturday (Nov. 5). Missouri Southern miscues led to 16 points for the Tigers. Fort Hays State moved to 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the MIAA, while Missouri Southern dropped to 3-6 overall and 2-6 in the MIAA.
On a windswept afternoon in Hays, the Tigers took advantage of the game early by scoring on the opening drive of the game. The Tigers marched 80 yards on nine plays in 2:57 into the stiff south wind, capping the drive on a 3-yard touchdown run by Edward Smith.
A fumble forced by Alex Whitehill in the second quarter, recovered by Cameron Shelton at the Missouri Southern 29-yardline, led to an Anthony Sheppard touchdown pass of nine yards to Cornelius Gallon to put FHSU up 14-0. Gallon went on to finish with a team-high nine receptions and 96 receiving yards.
After forcing a three-and-out on the next MSSU drive, the Tigers capitalized with more points on a 27-yard field goal by Tyler Kimbrough to go ahead by the halftime margin of 17-0.
The defense came up big by forcing another three-and-out on Missouri Southern's first drive of the second half. AJ Woodall blocked Dallas Herndon's punt, which Sherod Murdock recovered at the MSSU 12-yardline. That led to an 8-yard touchdown pass from Sheppard to Chase Leake to give the Tigers a comfortable 24-0 advantage.
The lead stretched to 27-0 on a 33-yard field goal by Kimbrough before the Lions finally got on the board with a touchdown at the 10:18 mark of the fourth quarter.
Kyle Perry who racked up nine tackles (which included 3.5 tackles for loss), dialed up his second sack of Collin Howard in Missouri Southern's endzone to put the game out of reach with a safety. That put the Tigers up 29-7.
Missouri Southern scored another touchdown late after a bad snap in punt formation over Ethan Kosjer's head that went for a loss of 44 yards. The Lions took over at the FHSU 3-yardline and scored in the short field.
Whitehill finished the game with 10 tackles, breaking the FHSU NCAA Division II single-season record for tackles. He now has 143 on the season and he passed Dustin Bailey who had 140 in 1992. Whitehill is now just seven tackles shy of the all-time school record of 150, set by Junior Hartig in 1979.
Sheppard was very efficient throwing the ball for FHSU, completing 15-of-20 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Andre Smith rushed for 94 yards on 17 carries and Edward Smith rushed for 82 yards on 12 carries. Sheppard added 23 yards on the ground.
Zach Nash and Jeff Balkenbusch tied with a team-high 11 tackles for the Tigers. Layton Hickel and Whitehill added 10.
Collin Howard was the top offensive performer for the Lions, completing 20-of-29 passes for 173 yards. Anthony Westfield had both touchdowns for MSSU, both on rushes from one yard out at the goalline. Richard Williams and Brian Rodgers led MSSU in tackles, each with nine.