ESU football prepares for tough MIAA game vs. FHSU

Courtesy: Emporia State Athletics

The #10 Hornets return home to take on Ft. Hays State on Senior Day. It will be the final regular season home game for 21 Emporia State seniors.

Braxton Marstall threw for 321 yards and #12 Emporia State gained a season high 228 on the ground in a 41-36 win at Pittsburg State on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburg, Kan.

The teams combined for 360 yards and 31 points in the first quarter. Emporia State led 14-3 with 7:10 left before Pitt State scored 14 straight to take a 17-14 lead with 1:31 left in the first quarter. The Hornets tied the score with 10:52 left in the half and retook the lead on a 24 yard touchdown from Braxton Marstall to Morris Williams with 5:12 left. The Gorillas tied the score at the 2:50 mark but Marstall scored on a 20 yard run with :37 left to give the Hornets a 31-24 lead at the break. Neither team scored in the third quarter and Emporia State went up by 14 on a one yard run by Landon Nault with 13:41 left in the game. Pitt pulled within 38-30 with 7:29 left before the Hornets iced the game with a 6:21 drive capped by an Austin Morton 37 yard field goal with 1:01 left for a 41-30 lead. The Gorillas scored with 5 seconds left but missed two point conversion and could not recover the onside kick.

Marstall was 28 of 37 for 321 yards and a touchdown through the air and added 73 yards and two touchdowns on 18 rushes. Nault had 24 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown and Williams added 51 yards on four carries with a touchdown. Kole Schankie had seven tackles to go with his fifth interception of the season.

Garin Higgins has compiled a career record of 111-60 in his 15th season as a head coach. He is 60-51 in his tenth season at his alma mater and is 50-27 since the start of the 2010 season. He led the Hornets to the Kanza Bowl in 2012, the NCAA playoffs in 2013 & the national quarterfinals in 2015. He had a 51-9 career record as the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma, including two trips to the national championship game. Higgins was a quarterback for Emporia State from 1987-90 and was on the 1989 national runners-up team. He is 4-5 against Ft. Hays State.
Chris Brown is 36-28 in his sixth year at Ft. Hays State. He is 3-2 against Emporia State.

Emporia State is 7-1 on the season and ranked #10 in the nation. The Hornets have allowed just one field goal on their opponents opening drive this season. They are ranked fourth in the MIAA in scoring offense and defense, scoring 36.5 points and giving up 26.5 points per game. The Hornets are +14 in turnover margin on the season to rank second in the nation. Kole Schankie leads the MIAA and is ranked eighth in the nation in interceptions. Braxton Marstall is leading the MIAA in completions and completion percentage and is fourth in total offense.

Ft. Hays State is 6-2 on the season and are receiving votes in the AFCA national poll. They are ranked second in the MIAA in scoring defense at 21.9 points and sixth in offense at 32.1 points per game. Shaquille Cooper is third in the MIAA in rushing at 70.5 yards per game while Jacob Mezera is fourth in the league with 265.5 passing yards per game.

This will be the 90th meeting between the two with Emporia State holding a 51-36-2 edge. It is the 59th straight year the two schools have met, making it the Hornets’ longest continuous rivalry.

The #13 Hornets could not complete the comeback as Fort Hays State posted a 27-24 victory. The Hornets scored the first ten points of the game and led 10-6 at the half. The Tigers took their first lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter. Emporia State answered with a 16 yard touchdown pass from Brent Wilson to Mitchell Foote with 14:05 left. Shaquille Cooper put the Tigers up 20-17 with 7:51 left on an 89 yard run. With 2:48 remaining Foote went 66 yards on a punt return to give the Hornets a 24-20 lead. FHSU scored with :52 left to take a 27-24 lead. Brock Long intercepted Wilson to seal the win for Fort Hays State with one second left. Wilson was 27 of 41 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Foote had 12 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Emporia State ends the regular season on the road starting at Missouri Western. Kick-off in St. Joseph, Mo. on Nov. 5 is set for 1:00 p.m.

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