Playoff Preview: Emporia State gears up for No. 1 NW Missouri State

Courtesy: Emporia State Athletics

For the second straight year Emporia State will travel to Maryville, Mo. in the playoffs as the #9 Hornets take on #1 Northwest Missouri. The two met in the 2015 Super Region #3 championship game last season and opened the 2016 season against each other back in September.

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.
The first half was a high scoring affair with Emporia State leading 14-13 after one quarter and 28-20 at the half. The Hornets scored the first two touchdowns of the second half to take a 42-20 lead going to the fourth quarter. The Emporia State defense posted a shutout int eh fourth as the Hornet offense added 17 points for the 59-26 final.
Marstall ended the game 26 of 39 for a career high 481 yards and five touchdowns. It is the fifth best single game passing day in MIAA history. Louis Dailey had six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns while Morris Williams II caught four passes for 134 yards and two scores. Landon Nault had a game high 88 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown. Defensively the Hornets had eight sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Logan Thompson was credited with a seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery while Gabe Cleveland and Kole Schankie each had an interception.

Garin Higgins has a career record of 115-60 in his 15th season as a head coach. He is 64-51 in his tenth season at his alma mater and is 54-27 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 3-2 in the NCAA Playoffs with Emporia State. He is 0-11 against NWMSU.
Adam Dorrel is 72-8 in his sixth year at Northwest Missouri. He is 7-0 against Emporia State.

Emporia State is 11-1 on the season and ranked #9 in the nation. They are ranked third in the MIAA in scoring defense at 22.6 points per game and are fourth at 36.0 points on offense. The Hornets are +20 in turnover margin on the season to rank third in the nation. Braxton Marstall is leading the MIAA in completions, is second in total offense and total passing yards and third in points responsible for. Mitchell Foote leads the MIAA in touchdown catches. Kole Schankie leads the MIAA and is ranked third in the nation with seven interceptions. DeAndre Glover is second in the league in tackles for loss while TreVaun Ammons is second in sacks.

Northwest Missouri is 11-0 on the season, has won 26 straight games and are ranked #1 in the nation. They lead the MIAA in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense while ranking in the top three nationally in scoring offense and defense and total defense. Kyle Zimmerman leads the MIAA and is second in the nation in passing efficiency.

This is the 33rd meeting in the series and the second straight year the two have met in the NCAA Playoffs. The Bearcats lead the series 30-2 and have won 23 straight. The last Emporia State win was 41-26 in Maryville in 1994.

The #24 Emporia State Hornets led top ranked Northwest Missouri 7-3 after the first quarter but the defending national champions would score 41 straight points on the way to a 41-14 win in at Welch Stadium to open the season.
Braxton Marstall was eight of 16 in the air for 63 yards and a touchdown while adding a team high 31 yards rushing. Jaylen Lowe played the fourth quarter and went four of five for 35 yards passing and added 19 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Kole Schankie led the Hornet defense with nine tackles while AJ West and Josh Monteagudo were both credited with six stops.

The winner will play either Harding or Sioux Falls for the Super Region 3 championship on Dec. 3 at the site of the highest remaining seed.

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