Western

Missouri Western running back Markel Smith rushes for a touchdown against Washburn on Saturday at Yager Stadium in Topeka, Kansas.

Since Sept. 29, 2018, the bell under the video board at Spratt Stadium has sat quietly on Saturday afternoons.

Five home games have come and gone for Missouri Western without making the ceremonially trip to signify a victory. The Griffons (3-2) will try to buck the trend against Missouri Southern (1-4) this evening and send a ringing throughout Western’s campus for the first time in more than a year.

“We’re getting under (the bell) this week,” junior defensive lineman Tyler Baska said. “There’s no questions about it.”

Since defeating Washburn, the Griffons ended 2018 with heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss. The Griffons were victims of a one-point loss to Central Oklahoma on a late missed field goal. Two weeks later, Dom Marino threw three interceptions in a 34-14 loss to Pittsburg State.

Western blew a 17-point lead over the final six minutes in the season finale to Lindenwood.

The Griffons started 2019 with a 45-35 loss to Northwest after having the lead in the fourth quarter, then lost in overtime to Central Missouri behind a missed field goal in the extra period.

“We want it bad. They haven’t rung the ball in a while, and it would be my first time as well,” graduate transfer running back Deron Thompson said. “I’m trying to get that out of the way and keep that going.”

Western comes in off back-to-back improved performances, scoring 104 points in a 2-0 stretch. Meanwhile, Southern has lost three straight to Northwest, Fort Hays State and Central Missouri. The Lions rank ninth in the MIAA in scoring offense at 28 points per game while surrendering nearly 47.

It will be a matchup of two of the league’s top quarterbacks as Jacob Park brings an average of 337 yards per game into Spratt Stadium. He has thrown 12 touchdowns against 17 interceptions with three receivers averaging better than 50 yards per game.

“He’s really good and really, really talented,” head coach Matt Williamson said. “The balls he throws, he puts them in tough spots. Even if you have a guy defending in a good position, he just puts it where the defensive back or linebacker can’t get it.

“They’ve got some really big, talented receivers we’ll have to matchup against and play physical.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Spratt Stadium.

Brandon Zenner can be reached

at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.