EMPORIA (ESU ATHLETICS) – Emporia State jumped out to a 28-0 lead and cruised to a 49-21 victory over Missouri Southern on Saturday afternoon on Jones Field at Welch Stadium.
FAST, FAST START
For the third straight week the Hornet defense forced a punt on the opponent’s opening drive, this time holding the Lions to a three and out. Mitchell Foote returned the ensuing punt 20 yards to the Mo. Southern 48 yard line. It took the Hornets just four plays and one minute to take the lead as Braxton Marstall found Mitchell Foote on a fade in the corner of the endzone for a 14 yard touchdown pass. After the touchdown, the Lions Devin Chafin fumbled on the kickoff return and Kole Schnakie recovered it at the MSSU 16 yard line. Two plays later Morris Williams II ran it in from 13 yards out to give the Hornets a 14-0 lead with 11:04 left in the first quarter.
Missouri Southern got the ball down to the Emporia State 26 yard line on their next possession thanks to a 32 yard pass from TJ Fleeton to Jordan Morrison. On the next play Tre Dickerson jumped the route and picked off Fleeton at the 31 yard line to give the Hornets the ball back. Nine plays and 69 yards later Marstall found Foote in the endzone again for another 14 yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 6:32 left in the opening quarter.
FINISHING THE HALF
The Hornets added another touchdown at the end of the first quarter on a four yard pass from Marstall to Justin Brown for a 28-0 lead with 48 seconds left in the period. Marstall ended the quarter 11 of 12 for 121 yards with three touchdowns. The Lions got on the board with a 13 yard touchdown pass from Fleeton to Terrell Crawford with 12:15 left in the first half. Emporia State answered with a ten play, 75 yard drive capped by a five yard Landon Nault touchdown run. Nault carried the ball four times on the drive for 31 yards while Marstall was four for five for 30 yards and added nine yards on the ground. The Lions drove down to the Hornets 11 yard line, thanks in part to a 61 yard scramble by Fleeton on the next drive, but the Emporia State defense stiffened and held Mo. Southern on downs. The offense responded with a 14 play, 89 yard that took 4:17 and ended with an Antonio Brown two yard touchdown run with 1:00 left in the half. MJ Mathis intercepted Fleeton on the final play of the half as the Hornets took a 42-7 lead into the locker rooms.
ON CRUISE CONTROL
Emporia State went up 49-7 with 10:10 left in the third period when Nault scored on a one yard run to cap a three play, 34 yard drive. The good field position came after a Schankie interception, his second take away of the game. Southern got a 15 yard touchdown pass from Fleeton to Ben Evans with 6:58 left in the third and Ja’Kori Bell added a two yard run with 12:34 left in the game for the final score.
Emporia State ended the game with 479 yards of total offense while Southern gained 451, but the Lions turned the ball over four times to just once for the Hornets. Marstall was 26 of 33 for 279 yards with three touchdowns and added 26 yards on six carries rushing. Nine different Hornets caught a pass, with four having at least five catches for 50 yards. Williams had six catches for 69 yards, Jaylen Lowe had five receptions for 67 yards, Jordan Reed hauled in five for 60 yards and Foote had five for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Nault ended the game with 75 yards on 12 carries with a pair of touchdowns while Antonio Brown had seven carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Lowe was also five for eight passing for 55 yards and carried the ball three times, the second straight game in which he has thrown a completion, caught a pass and gained yardage rushing in a game.
Defensively Remington Whitley was credited with a team high nine tackles Schankie had four solo tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
ODDS AND ENDS
The 42 points are the most by the Hornets in a half since scoring 42 against Northeastern State on Sept. 26, 2015.
The Hornets travel to #14 Central Missouri on Saturday, September 23 for another key MIAA and Super-Region 3 matchup. Kick-off from Kennedy Field/Walton Stadium in Warrensburg, Mo. is set for 1:00 p.m.