TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA (ESU Athletics) – The #18 Emporia State football teams got touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in a 47-27 win at Northeastern State on Saturday afternoon in Tahlequah, Okla.
QUICK START LEADS TO LONG QUARTER
The Hornets took the lead on the second play from scrimmage when Tre’Vaun Ammons sacked and stripped RiverHawk quarterback Dimonic McKinzy in the endzone and Donovan Walker recovered it with 14:34 left in the first quarter. Austin Morton missed the PAT to snap a string of 44 straight makes as Emporia State took a 6-0 lead.
The RiverHawks answered with an eight play, 74 yard drive and with the extra point took a 7-6 lead with 10:53 remaining. It was the first time this year Emporia State has trailed in the first quarter.
Emporia State retook the lead on a career long 44 yard field goal by Morton with 7:54 remaining to go up 9-6. After the defense forced a three and out, the Hornets went 59 yards and scored on a one yard rush by Braxton Marstall to take a 16-7 lead with 4:56 left in the quarter.
With just under two minutes left in the quarter Justin Marcha delivered a career long 70 yard punt that the Hornets touched, but did not down, at the one yard line. The RiverHawks Gary McKnight picked it up and returned it 85 yards before Marcha tackled him at the 14 yard line. Two plays later McKinzy found Zac King for a 12 yard touchdown to pull within 16-13 with 11 seconds left in the quarter as Tre Dickerson blocked the extra point.
SECOND QUARTER SPARKS
After the action packed first quarter, things slowed down in the second. Morton missed a 31 yard field goal that glanced off the left upright with 10:27 left in the half. The defense forced another three and out and Emporia State went 49 yards in six plays to take a 23-13 lead on Jaylen Lowe’s 12 yard touchdown run.
Gary Woods II picked off a McKinzy pass with 2:46 left and the Hornets went 45 yards in 1:26 before Marstall rushed in from 13 yards out to make it 30-13 Emporia State.
The RiverHawks answered with a five play, 76 yard drive that culminated with a 25 yard touchdown from McKinzy to Rashawn Eubanks with 42 seconds left.
The Hornets then drove 37 yards down to the RiverHawks 30 yard line before Morton missed on what would have been a career long 47 yard field goal as Emporia State took a 30-20 lead into the break.
DEFENSE KICKS IN
Marstall was intercepted off a deflected pass on the first Emporia State drive of the second half. On the ensuing drive for Northeastern State Kole Schankie picked off McKinzy and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown to give the Hornets a 37-20 lead.
Emporia State, who leads the MIAA and was ranked eighth in the nation in turnover margin, got another takeaway on the next Northeastern State drive when Tre Dickerson got a strip and Ugonna Nwarie recovered it at the Hornet 39 yard line. Nine plays later Morton connected on his second 44 yard field goal of the game to give the Hornets a 40-20 lead.
CLOSING IT OUT
Jaylen Lowe gave the Hornets a 47-20 lead when he returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown with 12:10 left in the fourth quarter.
The RiverHawks got the final score of the game on a nine yard pass from Blayne Armstrong to Zac King with 6:20 left in the game.
Emporia State was balanced on offense with 247 passing yards and 203 rushing yards for 450 total yards on 75 plays. Marstall was 22 of 31 for 211 yards through the air with Jordan Jackson collecting six passes for 60 yards. Landon Nault had 67 yards on 12 carries while Marstall added 64 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Lowe was one for one passing for 36 yards, had seven carries for 13 yards and a touchdown and two punt returns including the 47 yarder for a touchdown.
Defensively the Hornets got interceptions from Schankie, Woods and AJ West along with the fumble recovery by Nwarie.
It was the first time the Hornets have had two defensive scores in the same game since the first game of the 2014 season against Missouri Southern.
Lowe’s punt return for a touchdown was the first by a Hornet since Mitchell Foote returned one against Ft. Hays State last year.
Schankie’s interception return for a touchdown was the Hornets first pick six since AJ West returned one 59 yards against Washburn last year.
The #18 Hornets return to Jones Field at Welch Stadium to take on Lindenwood on October 15. Homecoming kick-off is set for 2:00 p.m.