Emporia State football falls after going toe to toe with #14 Central Missouri


Emporia, KS – Emporia State went toe to toe with #14 Central Missouri but could not recover an onside kick with a minute left in a 34-27 loss to the Mules on Saturday afternoon at Welch Stadium.

The Mules had the ball for the opening possession and drove 63 yards in 12 plays before the Hornet defense forced a 29 yard Chris Diddle field goal.  The Hornets held the ball for over five minutes on the ensuing drive but a sack for a loss of 15 yards pushed them out of field goal position.  On the next Central Missouri possession, Brook Bolles fumbled a handoff and Emporia State’s Jordan Griffin recovered it at the UCM 45 yard line.  On the Hornets first play from scrimmage Rasheed Noel scored on a reverse from 45 yards out to give Emporia State a 7-3 lead with 4:02 left in the quarter.  Defensively the Hornets forced a three and out on the next possession but Zach Davidson’s punt hit Kelin Gordon in the back of the leg at the Hornets 40 and the Mules Kolesen Crane jumped on the ball. Five plays later Koby Wilkerson scored from three yards out to give Central Missouri a 10-7 lead with 52 seconds left in the quarter.

The Hornets would retake the lead on their first possession of the second quarter.  Calvin Boyce rumbled in from five yards out but Clark Schoonover’s PAT missed as Emporia State took a 13-10 lead with 12:48 left in the half.  The Hornets tried an onside kick after the score but it was recovered by the Mules at the ESU 46 yard line.  The Emporia State defense again held the Mules to a field goal, this one from 40 yards, as they tied the score at 13 with 11:05 left in the half.  Central Missouri took the lead back with an eight yard pass from Bolles to Zach Davidson with 5:31 left. The Mules took over on their own 17 with 1:25 left in the half and Bolles connected with Jacob Smirl for 35 yards on first down.  After an incomplete pass Lawson Holbert picked off Bolles and returned it 54 yards down to the Central Missouri six yard line.  Two plays later Dalton Cowan found Marcellus Edwards in the back of the endzone to pull the Hornets into a 20-20 tie with 37 seconds left in the half.  The Mules were able to drive to Hornet 35 yard line but Diddle’s 52 yard field goal attempt came up short as time expired.

Field position played a big role in the third quarter with the first five possessions of the quarter all starting inside the offensive teams 25 yard line.  Emporia State was forced to punt from their own 16 yard line with two minutes left.  Ross Brungardt fumbled the snap from center allowing the Mules Jacob Smirl time to get a hand on the punt as it only went seven yards to the Mules 23 yard line.  Four plays later Bollescalled his own number and scored from three yards out but Diddle’s PAT attempt was wide to make it 26-20 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.

Both teams exchanged punts for most of the fourth quarter.  Emporia State was forced to start taking timeouts with 2:01 left as the Mules had the ball second and nine at their own 41 yard line.  On the next play Stanley Gee forced Bolles into a fumble and Gary Woods II recovered it at the UCM 48 to give the Hornets another chance.  On second down Cowan was intercepted by Codie Bell who returned it 58 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.  Bolles tossed a backwards lateral to offensive lineman Dominick Puni for the two point conversion to give UCM a 34-20 lead.  An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Puni forced the Mules to kick off from their own 20.  Travon Jones returned the kickoff to the Hornet 31 yard line.  A roughing the passer call on the Mules moved the ball to the ESU 46.  After an incomplete pass Cowan hit JT Mackey for a gain of 28 to the UCM 26 yard line and then found Wil Amos at the pylon on the goal line for a 26 yard touchdown. Schoonover’s extra point made it 34-27 with 1:02 left. The Hornets tried another onside kick but Jalen Marsalis grabbed it at the ESU 46 and were able to run out the clock.

Dalton Cowan was 36 of 57 for 313 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.  Rasheed Noel had eight catches for 70 yards in addition to his three carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.  Cole Schumacher also had eight receptions for 53 yards while Wil Amos had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Carlos Grace had 11 carries for 58 yards on the ground for Emporia State.

Gee Stanley and Jace McDown each had ten tackles to lead Emporia State. Lawson Holbert had nine tackles and his 54 yard interception return.

The Hornets will return to action next Saturday when they travel to Missouri Western. Kick-off from Spratt Stadium in St. Joseph, Mo. is set for 1:00 p.m.

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