The 18th ranked Emporia State Hornets picked off six passes in a 33-13 victory at No. 5 Northwest Missouri on Thursday night in Maryville, Mo. The win was the first by the Hornets over the Bearcats since 1994 and snapped a 29-game losing streak to NWMSU dating back to 1994.
The defense set the tone for Emporia State as Jaaron Joseph intercepted Mike Hohensee and returned it 76 yards to give Emporia State a 6-0 lead after a bad snap on the PAT. The Bearcats responded with a 12-play, 75-yard drive to take a 7-6 lead with 6:10 remaining in the first half.
The Hornets went three and out on their next possession but got the ball back two plays later thanks to a Montrell Wilson interception with 4:43 left in the quarter. Emporia State would drive to the Northwest 32 before getting stopped on fourth down on the last play of the first quarter.
The Bearcats took the opening drive of the second quarter and drove to the Hornets 35-yard line before Khalil Rasheed picked off Chris Runke with 11:19 left in the second quarter. A 40-yard pass from Braden Gleason to Jaylon Varner followed by a 28-yard pass to Kingsley Bennett gave Emporia State a 13-7 lead with 10:42 left in the half. After a seven-yard gain on first down on the ensuing drive by the Bearcats, the game entered a 30-minute lightning delay. After the delay, Emporia State forced a three and out. Both offenses struggled for the remainder of the quarter, with Northwest Missouri missing a 33-yard field goal to end the half.
The Hornets would go up 19-7 on a 28-yard catch and run from Gleason to Tommy Zimmerman with 9:18 left in the third quarter. The PAT was blocked. On the next possession, Chance Rodriguez gave Emporia State their fourth pick of the night to end another Bearcat drive. ESU would then drive 86 yards on 16 plays and take 6:40 off the clock before Gleason hooked up with Tyler Kahmann on a one-yard touchdown pass to make it 25-7 with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
To start the fourth quarter, Northwest Missouri drove to the Emporia State one-yard line before a fumbled snap pushed them back to the seven. On fourth and goal, Danarius Hollywood broke up a pass to preserve the 18-point lead. Following a three-and-out, Ross Brungardt got off a 50-yard punt to flip the field and set NWMSU up at their own 30-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Chance Rodriguez got his second interception of the game to give ESU the ball at the Bearcat 30-yard line. On first down, Billy Ross Jr. broke through the line and went 30 yards for a touchdown. He then carried in the two-point conversion to make it 33-7 with 8:25 left in the game.
Henry Martin came in at quarterback for Northwest Missouri on the next possession and drove the Bearcats 95 yards in eight plays before scrambling in from six yards out to make it 33-13 with 4:08 left. After a three-and-out, Brungardt nailed a 38-yard punt that went out of bounds at the two-yard line. Three plays later Rodriguez wrestled the ball away from a Northwest Missouri receiver for his third interception of the game to effectively seal the win with 1:40 left.
Braden Gleason completed 26 of his 37 pass attempts for 257 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with seven different receivers. Tyler Kahmann had a team-high eight catches for 77 yards. Billy Ross Jr. gained 106 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown. Defensively, Chance Rodriguez had nine tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
Emporia State will be back in action on Saturday, September 16 when they travel to Northeastern State. Kickoff from Doc Wadley Stadium in Tahlequah, Oklahoma is set for 6:00 p.m.
- The six interceptions tie a school record set against Southwest Baptist in 1994.
- Chance Rodriguez's three interceptions tied the school record set by Derek Lohmann at Southwest Baptist in 2011 and tied by JP Lohrentz at Minnesota State in the 2015 playoffs.
- Braden Gleason moved into third place on the Emporia State career lists for both passing yards and total offense. He now has 8,039 passing yards and 8,860 yards of total offense. He moved past Tyler Eckenrode (8,031 passing yards and 8,669 total yards from 2009-12) in both categories.