WARRENSBURG, Mo. (KSNT) – Emporia State football teased all week that Saturday’s matchup against Central Missouri could see a lot of offense for both teams.

That sentiment came true, with the two teams trading blows in the first quarter, but the Mules eventually pulled away. Central Missouri came away with a 77-27 win.

No. 17 UCM got on the board first, scoring on back-to-back possessions to take a 14-0 lead early. No. 23 Emporia State responded with a Braden Gleason 12-yard touchdown run to cut into the deficit at 14-7.

The two ranked foes traded blows. Gleason completed two 30-yard touchdown passes to Jaylen Varner and Tyler Kahmann in the first quarter, but UCM kept finding the endzone, as well. After 15 minutes, the Hornets were trailing 28-20.

Quarter two wasn’t good for Emporia State. The Hornets punted twice between UCM scoring drives. The Mules took a 49-20 lead with 8 minutes left in the first half.

Gleason used his legs for another touchdown run to cut the deficit to 49-27. With less than a minute left in the half, UCM marched 66 yards for a touchdown to take a 56-27 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter wasn’t kind to the Hornets, either. Back-to-back Mule scoring drives led to Gleason’s second interception of the season, which set up UCM for another touchdown to take a 77-27 lead in the third.

The fourth quarter was quiet as the two teams ran out the clock. At the end, it was Central Missouri on top, 77-27.

Gleason finished 35 of 60 with two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and an interception. Kahmann finished with ten receptions with 117 yards and a score.

UCM quarterback Zach Zebrowski shined, completing 30 of 53 passes for 627 yards and eight touchdowns. Mules’ running back Marcellous Hawkins rushed the ball 12 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns.

The loss moves the Hornets’ record to 5-3. Emporia State returns home for a matchup with Nebraska-Kearney on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.