October 5, 2019-Emporia State had a second half lead against Northwest Missouri but could not build on it as the seventh ranked Bearcats scored a 34-23 come from behind win on Saturday at Welch Stadium.
The Hornets came out and drove 75 yards on five plays to take a 7-0 lead on their opening possession. Dalton Cowan had a 31 yard completion to Wil Amos and a 24 yard touchdown pass to Cole Schumacher on the drive. Emporia State’s defense then forced a three an out by the Bearcats before Mike Hohensee boomed a 64 yard punt down to the Hornet one yard line. On second down Carlos Grace was tackled in the endzone by Blake Beyer for a safety to get Northwest on the board.
On the Bearcats possession Jace McDown intercepted a Braden Wright pass that was tipped by Cade Harelson. The Hornets were forced to punt and Alec Tatum fumbled the return and it was recoverd by Lawson Holbert at the Bearcat 14 yard line. A false start and a sack pushed the Hornets back to the 17 yard line where they settled for a 34 yard field goal by Clark Schoonover.
Northwest held the ball for the final 5:17 of the first quarter as it took them 14 plays to go 31 yards before Parker Sampson hit a 35 yard field goal as time expired to pull within 10-5. The Hornets went three and out on the first possession of the second quarter. The Bearcats then drove 89 yards on 13 plays, aided by a successful conversion of a fake punt on fourth and two at their own 30, and took their first lead at 12-10 on a two yard run by Hohensee with 7:19 left in the half.
The Hornets answered with a 14 play, 73 yard drive of their own capped by a three yard touchdown run by Carlos Grace to give them a 17-12 lead headed into half time. It was the first time since 2003 Emporia State had held the lead on Northwest Missouri at the half.
It only took the Bearcats two plays of the third quarter to retake the lead. On second and three Wright found Imoni Donadelle for a 57 yard touchdown pass as Northwest went up 19-17 just 51 seconds into the third quarter. Emporia Stat answered right back with an 11 play, 75 yard drive to retake the lead. Cowan was seven of nine for 68 yards on the drive including the final 16 yard touchdown pass to JT Mackey. The PAT was blocked and Emporia State led 23-19 with 10:09 left in the third.
The defense then forced Northwest into a three and out before Hohensee took advantage of a strong north wind on a 62 yard punt that was downed at the Emporia State five yard line. Two plays later Zach Howard forced a fumble by Carlos Grace and Isaac Vollstedt recovered it at the Emporia State 12 yard line. Four plays later Hohensee found Marqus Andrews in the endzone for a three yard touchdown and, after the PAT was wide right, a 25-23 Bearcat lead with 7:12 left in the third.
As much as the wind helped Northwest on the 62 yard punt, it hurt the Hornets on their final two punts of the third quarter. Going against the wind Ross Brungardt had a 22 yard punt that set the Bearcats up at the Hornet 38 yard line. The Emporia State defense was able to hold Northwest to 11 yards on seven plays before Sampson hit a 53 yard field goal with 3:46 left in the quarter. The Hornets were forced to punt on their next possession and this one went 25 yards to the Hornet 48 yard line. Despite a pass interference penalty the Hornet defense was again able to hold the Bearcats to a field goal, this time from 41 yards out as Northwest Missouri took a 31-23 lead into the fourth quarter.
Neither team could get much offense in the fourth quarter. The only score came on a 27 yard field goal by Sampson, his fourth of the game, to give the Bearcats a 34-23 lead with 6:05 left. Emporia State turned the ball over on downs at the Northwest 40 on the next possession. The Bearcats were able to then burn 1:25 off the clock before getting stopped on fourth down at the ESU 31. The Hornets were able to get one completion before a sack and incomplete pass ended the game.
The Hornets held Northwest Missouri, who entered the game averaging 52 points and over 500 yards of offense, to 18 points and 200 yards below their season averages. Jace McDown had a game high 13 tackles with an interception while Gary Woods II was credited with ten stops. Lawson Holbert had seven tackles, a fumble recovery and two pass break ups. Nine different Hornets were credited with at least an assisted tackle for loss.
Offensively Dalton Cowan was 19 of 40 for 156 yards and two touchdowns while leading Emporia State with 24yards on 13 rushes. Cole Schumacher had five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown while Wil Amos added five catches for 40 yards.
Emporia State is back in action next Saturday when they travel to Fort Hays State. Kick-off from Lewis Field Stadium in Hays, Kan. is set for 7:00 p.m.