No. 12 Emporia State tested at home, score late to beat Lindenwood

Garin Higgns

EMPORIA, Kan. (ESU Athletics) For the second time in four games Braxton Marstall led #12 Emporia State to a win in the fourth quarter as he scored the game winning touchdown with 15 seconds left in a 35-28 Homecoming victory over Lindenwood on Saturday.

Emporia State got the ball to start the game and drove to the Lindenwood two yard line before a penalty and sack pushed them back to the 17. Austin Morton missed a 34 yard field goal attempt to give the ball to Lindenwood. For the seventh straight game the Hornet defense was able to hold their opponent without scoring on their opening possession, allowing just 22 yards on four plays before forcing a punt. The team would trade punts over the next five possessions before the Lions Allen Thigpen connected with Aaron Daniels for an 11 yard touchdown with 7:36 left in the half. The Hornets would drive down to the Lions 22 yard at the end of the half and appeared to score the game tying touchdown on 22 yard run by Marstall, but it was negated by the first of two straight penalties. Morton then missed a 42 yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds left in the half to send the teams to the lockerrooms with Lindenwood leading 7-0.

The Hornets forced a three and out on the opening drive of the half by the Lions and then drove 60 yards in nine plays to tie the score with a bit of trickery. Facing third and two at the Lions 21 yard line, Marstall tossed a backwards pass to Jaylen Lowe who found Mitchell Foote all alone as he waltzed into the endzone with 10:55 left in the third. On the next possession for Lindenwood, the Lions drove to the Hornet 20 yard line, but Donovan Walker and Te’Vaun Ammons combined on a sack on fourth down to give Emporia State the ball back. The Hornets then drove 74 yards in 11 plays and took their first lead of the day on a one yard plunge by Marstall with 4:09 remaining in the quarter. The Lions responded with a six play, 81 yard drive capped by a 50 yard touchdown from Thigpen to Deantrell Prince with 1:18 left in the period to tie the score at 14-14.

Emporia State regained the lead on their first possession of the fourth quarter. Marstall found Lowe for a 13 yard touchdown, that included a nifty spin move at the one yard line, for a 21-14 lead on the first of five touchdowns in the final quarter. The Lions got a 67 yard return off the ensuing kick-off to set up at the Hornet 30 yard line. Four plays later Thigpen scrambled 16 yards to tie the score a 21 with 9:19 left in the game. Emporia State answered right back with an eight play, 75 yard drive capped by Denzel Strong bulldozing his way into the endzone from three yards out to give the Hornets a 28-21 lead with 6:12 left. Not to be outdone, Lindenwood then went on an eight play, 71 yard drive and retied the game on a 24 yard run by Daniels with 3:17 remaining in the game.

Following a penalty on the kick return, the Hornets started their final drive on their own 12 yard line with 3:09 left. Marstall found Foote for four yards on first down and Strong rolled off a pair of four yard runs for a first down. Marstall and Foote connected again on an 18 yard pass and after an incompletion Marstall hit Anthony Buffalomeat for ten yards into Lindenwood territory at the 48 yard line. Marstall ran for nine yards and Strong added five to get the Hornets down to the Lion 34 yard line. Foote and Marstall hooked up again, this time for a 17 yard completion to get the Hornets into field goal range at the Lindenwood 17 yard line with 32 seconds left. After a two yard run by Landon Nault, the Hornets tried a fade into the endzone that was just out of Justin Brown’s range. On third and eight Marstall broke out of the pocket and found the endzone at the end of a 15 yard run to score the game winner with 15 seconds left. The Lions got a kick return out to the 45 yard line with five seconds left. Justin Brown, who was inserted as a defensive back for the final play, was able to knock down Alex Faddoul’s pass in the endzone on the final play to preserve the 35-28 win.

Marstall finished the game 39 of 51 for 317 yards with a touchdown and added 49 rushing yards and two scores on 18 carries. Justin Brown had ten receptions for 75 yards while Foote had seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Jaylen Lowe had four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown and completed his only pass for a 21 yard touchdown. Kole Schankie had a team high nine tackles, including one for a loss. Donovan Walker had 1.5 sacks among his three tackles to go with a quarterback hurry.

This was the first time the Hornets have been shutout in the first half since Nov. 8, 2014 against Northwest Missouri.
Marstall had career highs in attempts and completions as he threw for over 300 yards for the second time in four games.
Austin Morton moved into second place on the Emporia State career made PAT list and now has 123. He passed Adam Hunt who had 119 makes from 1991-94.
The Hornets had 522 yards of total offense on 97 plays, the third time this year they have run at least 97 plays in a game.

The #12 Hornets travel to Pittsburg State on Saturday, October 22. Kick-off from Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kan. is set for 2:00 p.m.

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