EMPORIA (KSNT) – The Hornets are ready to start a winning streak, beginning Saturday against Central Missouri.

Emporia State (3-2) put together a 42-35 win against Washburn the past week. Even after building a 42-14 lead into the fourth quarter, the Hornets didn’t lighten up.

“You got to play until there’s three zeroes on the clock,” running back Canaan Brooks said.

The grit has been a tough lesson to learn for some players. In 2021, the Hornets lost to Missouri Western after building a three-touchdown lead.

“Those things kind of built the character for this team that we have this year,” Brooks said. “We remember these things. The talk on the sideline was don’t get comfortable. Stay in it. We still got to play the game. As Coach Higgins would say, we try not to scoreboard watch and stat watch and things like that.”

Central Missouri (1-4) doesn’t rank toward the top in most statistical categories, but it leads the MIAA in interceptions.

“Our job on offense is to protect the football,” head coach Garin Higgins said. “We have ball security drills that we do regularly. Last year we had a lot of turnovers against them. We talked about it a little bit this week, but we’re not harping on it because I think that should just be a part of your culture.”

The Mules are tenth in the MIAA in total defense and passing efficiency defense, giving the Hornets’ spread offense a boost.

“I think we spread the ball around pretty good,” quarterback Braden Gleason said. “You can’t focus on one guy on our offense. Everybody’s going to make plays and get their opportunity.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 1 p.m. from Welch Stadium.