EMPORIA (ESU ATHLETICS) – Emporia State’s Braxton Marstall threw for 481 yards and five touchdowns as the #9 Hornets defeated #13 Minn.-Duluth in the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs on Jones Field at Welch Stadium. With the win Emporia State will advance to take on #1 Northwest Missouri on November 26 in a rematch of last year’s Super Region3 Final.
The Hornets got on the board first with an 18 yard run by Marstall for a 7-0 lead with 10:51 left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs answered with a 38 yard pass from Drew Bauer to Jason Bolts with 5:59 left. UMD elected to go for two and Josh Monteagudo broke up the attempt to leave Emporia State ahead 7-6. Marstall found Louis Dailey for a 45 yard touchdown on the next series to give the Hornets a 14-6 lead. Again the Bulldogs answered, going 75 yards in nine plays to pull within 14-13 on a 16 yard pass from Bauer to Darren Walker with 2:00 left in the quarter.
The second quarter saw the Hornets go up 21-13 on a 60 yard pass from Marstall to Morris Williams II with 9:26 left in the half. Jason Balts returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to get UMD back within 21-20. Tre’Vaun Ammons blocked Bulldog punt with 5:32 left in the half and two plays later Marstall hit Dailey for a 64 yard touchdown to send the Hornets to the lockerroom with a 28-20 lead.
Emporia State got the ball to open the second half and 81 yards in ten plays before Marstall connected with Mitchell Foote for a 19 yard touchdown and 35-20 Hornet lead with 11:57 left in the quarter. The next series Gabe Cleveland intercepted Bauer and one play later Marstall hit Williams in stride for a 46 yard touchdown and 42-20 Hornet lead with 10:59 left in the third. The Bulldogs answered with an 11 play, 65 yard drive culminated by a one yard touchdown run by offensive lineman Nolan Folkert as the teams went to the fourth quarter with Emporia State leading 42-26.
The Hornets began to establish the run to start the fourth quarter with Landon Nault gaining 54 yards on five carries during a seven play, 80 yard drive to start the period. He capped the drive with a 12 yard touchdown run to give Emporia State a 49-26 lead with 12:49 remaining. UMD elected to go for it on fourth and ten from their own 24 and Monteagudo broke up the pass play. Emporia State turned it into three more points when Austin Morton hit a 32 yard field goal with 10:58 left to give the Hornets a 52-26 lead. On the next drive Bauer was sacked by Ammons who forced a fumble, Logan Thompson picked up the ball at midfield and returned it to the 35 where he lateralled it to AJ West who took it to the endzone for the score and a 59-26 Hornet lead with 8:55 left in the game.
Marstall ended the game 26 of 39 for a career high 481 yards and five touchdowns. Dailey had six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns while Williams caught four passes for 134 yards and two scores. Nault had a game high 88 yards on 16 carries.
The win sets up a rematch of last year’s Super Region 3 championship at Northwest Missouri. Kick-off at Bearcat Stadium is set for 1:00 p.m. on November 26 in Maryville, Mo.