EMPORIA (KSNT) – The Turnpike Tussle is a unique rivalry that dates back 117 years.
“Whatever sports you played, there’s always a rival, right? There’s always going to be a rival,” Garin Higgins, Emporia State head football coach, said. “That type of stuff, for me, is what college athletics is about. It’s what athletics in general is about.”
This is an even rivalry. Washburn head coach Craig Schurig is 11-7 against the Hornets, while Higgins is 6-7 against the Ichabods.
“With a rivalry game, hopefully get out to a fast start and not let them get out in front,” Schurig said.
Washburn quarterback Mitch Schurig is a threat to the Hornets. He threw for five touchdowns in the past game against Missouri Western State. Higgins knows no there’s no shutting him down.
“You’ve got to get pressure,” Higgins said. “I coached quarterbacks, so I know that if you can get a rush, whether it be like for us just with our three-down lineman, or four-down if you’re a four-down team, it starts there at the line of scrimmage.”
However, the Hornets’ defense poses a threat for Schurig’s offensive line.
“Their defense is different than most,” Washburn offensive lineman Colton Dunkle said. “They run a 3-3 stack most of the time, and then they’ll shift it over. Most of the time, we’ll get like a four-man front. So, we’ve just got to make sure we’re adjusting the blocks.”
Emporia State receiver Corey Thomas is back from the injured list. He’s looking forward to playing against his best friend, Jacob Anderson, who leads Washburn with 23 tackles.
“We’ve talked about this for a while,” Thomas said. “I missed the ’19 game against them with an injury, so it’s going to be cool to be out there. It’s his senior season, so it’s going to be cool to be out here in his last game, and I’ll be out there with him.”
Emporia State has lost its past two games by three total points, so records don’t mean much this matchup.
“They could very easily be 4-0 with the way they’ve played,” Schurig said. “It’s going to be a really tough game. It’s going to be very similar to the last game we just played, or the last two weeks that we just played, so we’ve got to rise up and get it done.”
The 2021 Turnpike Tussle kicks off at 1 p.m. in Emporia.