Tough challenge ahead for football team

Tough challenge ahead for football team

Neil Ralston

Matt Sabados | Reporter
Oct. 18, 2016; 7 a.m.

football
Photo by Nao Enomoto Lions running back Aaron Daniels rushes the ball down the field in a game against the Missouri Western Griffons on Oct. 8. The team will be facing the No. 1 team in the division, Northwest Missouri, during the homecoming game held on Oct. 22 at 1:30 p.m. in Hunter Stadium.

It’s the football version of David versus Goliath. The underdog Lindenwood Lions will take on the powerhouse Northwest Missouri State during Homecoming weekend.

The game, taking place on Oct. 22, will follow a close game that took place against Emporia State.

Many had already written them off in their game against the No. 12 team in the nation, but the Lions silenced those critics after just 30 minutes of play by taking a 7-0 lead into halftime.

Even though Lindenwood eventually lost the game 35-28, there was room for optimism because Lindenwood improved in every facet against Emporia, from offensive turnovers to defensive stops. They will need to do even better in order to down Northwest Missouri.

When the Lions take the field this Saturday for Homecoming, they will be taking on a national champion that has not lost a game since 2014 and that dismantled Lindenwood last year 69-0.

Lindenwood failed to reach 80 yards of total offense the last time these two teams met, and Lindenwood channeled the frustration of that loss into its second of three wins last year.

Head Coach Patrick Ross spoke on building opportunities for the team and what needs to be done.

“The quarterbacks are a key component to what we’re doing … for us to win we need to be up in the 60-65 [completion percentage] range,” said Ross.

Lindenwood quarterbacks have eclipsed that plateau only once this year, when AJ Thigpen and Mason Bendigo combined to go 33-48 in a loss to Washburn University.

Northwest Missouri is in the top three of every conceivable team statistic in the MIAA, and holds an average margin of victory of 34 points. Lindenwood has only scored 34 points once this season, in the week one victory over the University of Central Oklahoma.

For senior linebacker Connor Harris, it comes down to one thing, “Play great football for all four quarters.”