MUST SEE PLAY: #15 Emporia State loses on final play to Central Missouri

Courtesy: Emporia State Athletics

September 23, 2017-Central Missouri scored a defensive touchdown on the last play of the game to defeat #15 Emporia State 37-31 on Saturday on Jones Field at Welch Stadium. The Hornets were attempting to lateral the ball down the field on their final play from scrimmage when one of the laterals was batted down and the Mules returned it to the five before fumbling it into the endzone where Austin Miller recovered it to stun the Family Day crowd.

The Hornets scored on their opening possession s they drove 75 yards in seven plays capped bthe first of two Landon Nault touchdown runs. The Mules would tie the game at seven on Devante Turner’s 49 yard touchdown run with 5:38 left in the opening quarter. Emporia State retook the lead when defensive lineman Jon Denton, a former tight end, caught a 20 yard touchdown pass from Braxton Marstall with 2:21 remaining in the period.

Marstall found Justin Brown with 7:03 left in the half for a 14 yard touchdown to give the Hornets a 21-7 lead. On the opening drive of the second half, UCM took the ball 75 yards in ten plays, scoring on a one yard end around from Jaylen Zachary to make it 21-14 with 10:00 left in the third quarter. Emporia State responded with a 25 yard field goal from Austin Morton to take a 24-14 lead with 7:37 left in the third. The Mules pulled within three points when Tyler Nugent caught a 36 yard touchdown pass from Brook Bolles with 4:42 left in the third.

Nault scored his second touchdown of the game on a seven yard rush with 14:18 remaining to cap off an 11 play, 93 yard drive to give the Hornets a 31-21 lead. After trading punts, the Mules took over on their own 20 yard line with 8:41 left. They drove 74 yards on 12 plays and ate up 4:27 on the clock before settling for a 23 yard field goal form Alex Langer with 4:14 left. The Hornets could only use up 1:40 on their next possession and had to punt the ball back to the Mules with 2:34 left. Bolles connected with Zachary for a diving catch and a 45 yard gain on their first play down to the Hornet 24 yard line. After a UCM false start Bolles hit Seth Hebert for 26 yards down to the Hornet three. Parker Bass and Luke Meyer combined on a tackle for loss on first and goal, then Bass made a touchdown saving tackle at the two on second down. Bolles was able to scramble and find Wesley Thomas in the endzone on third and goal for a touchdown. Langer’s extra point tied the game at 31 with 12 seconds left.

After a touchback on the kick off, Emporia State gave the ball to Nault for a gain of five on first down and then called time out. With five seconds left Marstall hit Justin Brown, who lateraled back to Carson Proffitt at about the 42 yard line. Proffitt tried to throw backwards across the field but his pass was batted down by the Mules Michael Tannehill and recovered at the Hornet 35 by Koleson Crane. Crane returned it down to the Hornet two yard line before fumbling it into the endzone where Austin Miller jumped on it for the touchdown.

Marstall finished the game 28 of 49 for 344 yards with two touchdowns while Landon Nault had 25 carries for 133 yards and two scores. Justin Brown had career highs of 14 catches and 157 yards with a touchdown. It is the first time since September 17, 2011, a 45-38 loss to Central Missouri, that Emporia State had a player pass for 300 yards, rush for 100 yards and have 100 receiving yards in a game. Gabe Cleveland had a game high 13 tackles after missing last week’s game with a broken bone in his hand.

Emporia State will look to bounce back next weekend when they travel to Central Oklahoma. Kick-off from Wantland Stadium in Edmond, Okla. is set for 2:00 p.m.

Marstall became the fifth Hornet quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in his career. He now has 5,125 yards in 22 career games.
It is the first time the Hornets have lost a game with a fourth quarter lead since 27-24 loss at Ft. Hays State in 2015 and the first time they have lost a home game with a fourth quarter lead since the 45-38 loss to Central Missouri in 2011.

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