Hornets Host Kearney Thursday Night

By: ESU Sports Information (Posted by J.B. Bauersfeld)
By: ESU Sports Information (Posted by J.B. Bauersfeld)

Emporia State makes their 2013 home debut as they play host to Nebraska-Kearney on Jones Field at Welch Stadium in the only MIAA game on Thursday. The Hornets are 15-4 dating back to the 2011 season.

Brent Wilson had the best first start by a quarterback in Emporia State history in the Hornets 43-13 victory at Ft. Hays State on Thursday night. The sophomore was 21 of 28 for 301 yards and three touchdowns while adding 74 yards on 13 rushes with another touchdown. Austin Willis was his favorite target, catching a career high nine passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. Dozie Iwaugwu was the leading rusher for Emporia State with 86 yards on 18 carries. As a team Emporia State racked up 591 yards while holding Ft. Hays State to 207 yards on the night. Neil Shortell led a balanced Hornet defense with five tackles, two for loss. Deveon Diwiddie and Corben Abila each had an interception and Deveon Dinwiddie added a fumble recovery.

Garin Higgins has compiled a career record of 81-47 in his 12th season as a head coach. He led the Hornets to ten wins for just the second time in school history last year. He is 30-38 in his seventh season at his alma mater and is 21-14 over the last three seasons. He had a 51-9 career record as the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma, including two trips to the national championship game. Higgins was a quarterback for Emporia State from 1987-90 and was on the 1989 national runners-up team. He is 1-0 against Neb.-Kearney.
Darrell Morris is 95-48 in his 14th season at Neb.-Kearney. He is 0-1 against Emporia State.

Emporia State rolled up 591 yards as they scored over 30 points for the 13th time in the last 19 games in their 43-13 season opening win. Brent Wilson became the first Hornet to throw for over 300 yards in his first start in school history. Eight different players caught a pass led by Austin Willis with 216 yards and three touchdowns.

Neb.-Kearney is 0-1 after opening the season with a 58-13 home loss to Washburn. The Lopers turned the ball over seven times in the loss. Bronson Marsh had 242 yards of total offense going 16 of 30 for 163 yards in the air and gaining 79 yards on 20 rushes.

This will be the 18th meeting between the two schools and the first in Emporia since 1990. Neb.-Kearney leads the all-time series 11-6, but Emporia State has won five straight and six of the last seven dating back to 1985.

Emporia State jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 58-35 win at Neb.-Kearney. Tyler Eckenrode ended the day 30 of 43 for 367 yards and four touchdowns and added a team high 51 yards rushing on eight carries. Shjuan Richardson hauled in 15 passes for a career high 204 yards and three touchdowns. Austin Willis added four receptions for 70 yards for the Hornets. ESU got defensive scores on a 35 yard fumble return by Josh Taylor and a 30 yard interception return by Tyrone Weaver. Ben Carlson had a team high 13 tackles including a sack.

The Hornets travel to Central Oklahoma on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m.

Emporia State plays host to Nebraska-Kearney in Welch Stadium for the first time since the 1990 season.

The Hornets ran 94 offensive plays and held the ball for a remarkable 39:32 at Fort Hays State. Emporia State only had one three and out on the night while the Hornet defense held the Tigers to eight drives of three plays or less that ended in a punt or turnover. After the first week of the season, Emporia State leads the MIAA and is ranked in the top ten of the nation in both total offense and total defense.

The Hornets are one of six MIAA teams receiving votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NCAA Division II Poll. If the poll was carried out, Emporia State would be ranked #30 with 30 points. The Emporia State football team began the season receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NCAA Division II Preseason Poll. The last time Emporia State was in the AFCA Preseason Poll was prior to the 2004 season.
Despite the national recognition, Emporia State was slated for seventh in both the MIAA Coaches and Media Preseason Polls. The Hornets did garner one first place vote in the media poll. There was a clear split in the voting of both polls. The Hornets were almost as close to first as they were to eighth in the coaches poll. Emporia State was just 46 points behind co-favorites Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri in the coaches poll and were 43 points in front of Ft. Hays State, who came in eighth. The Hornets were one of four teams to pick up a first place vote in the media poll. The gap between seventh and eighth was the largest point differential in both polls.

Coming off a 10-2 season and win in the Kanza Bowl, excitement is building for the Emporia State football team. With over a week until the home opener, season ticket sales for Hornet football were nearly 20% ahead of last year's final total. Emporia State was 29th in the nation in attendance last season with an average of 5,117 fans per game.

Emporia State is leading the MIAA and ranked in the top ten nationally in total offense, time of possession and first downs. The Hornet are second in the MIAA and ranked 14th in the country in rushing offense.

Quarterback Brent Wilson (So./Ponca City, Okla.) was the first quarterback in Emporia State history to throw for over 300 yards in his first start as he went 21 of 29 for 301 yards and three touchdowns against Ft. Hays State. He also ran for 74 yards on 13 carries with a pair of rushing touchdowns for 375 yards of total offense. He saw action in nine games as a true freshman in 2012 and was three for four for 70 yards and a touchdown over his last three games. He threw for 2,747 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at Ponca City HS.

Quarterback Corben Jones (Fr.-RS/Yukon, Okla.) was one for three for 19 yards in his Hornet debut. He carried the ball four times for a total of seven yards against the Tigers. He redshirted last season following an All-State career at Yukon HS. He threw for 1,999 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior and had over 7,000 career passing yards for Yukon HS.

Quarterback Ty Reasnor (Fr./Cashion, Okla.) will likely travel as the third quarterback to start the season for Emporia State. He earned first-team Class A All-State honors as he threw for 3,562 yards and 48 touchdowns with just three interceptions to lead Cashion HS to a 13-1 record as a senior.

Receiver Austin Willis (Jr./Topeka, Kan.) caught nine passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns at Fort Hays State. He had four catches for over 25 yards including 64 and 30 yard touchdowns. He also had a rush for 18 yards to give him 234 all-purpose yards and rank ninth in the nation in that category. The 216 yards are the most by a Hornet since Shjuan Richardson caught 11 passes for 217 yards against Truman last season. After the opening week of action he is leading the MIAA and is ranked second in the nation in receiving yards. He is second in the MIAA and third in the nation in scoring. He caught 26 passes last season for 326 yards. Also a member of the Hornet track team, his 74 yard touchdown catch gave Emporia State the lead at Southwest Baptist and was the fourth longest play from scrimmage last year for the Hornets. He is the only junior to be elected team captain.

A big receiver with a knack for making catches in traffic, Ray Ray Davis (Sr./Indian Trail, N.C.) has 116 catches for 1,474 yards in his two plus seasons with the Hornets. He had five catches for 35 yards against Fort Hays State. He earned honorable mention All-MIAA honors after catching 61 passes for 899 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a versatile athlete who caught and threw a touchdown pass in the Kanza Bowl. He had five catches for 50 yards and two carries for 19 yards at Washburn, including his second straight rushing touchdown off a direct snap. He had a career high 138 yards on nine catches at Northwest Missouri and scored a touchdown on a five yard rush. He caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against Missouri Western. He had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns at Truman. He caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown against Lindenwood. He had 97 yards on six catches at Northeastern State following a six reception, 91 yard day against Central Oklahoma. As a sophomore he was sixth in the MIAA in receptions with 50 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns in ten games. He is one of four team captains.

Receiver Kavaski Ervin (So./Mesquite, Texas) played at both receiver and corner back last season and will start the year on the offensive side of the ball. He was the only Hornet to have a rush of over 25 yards and a reception of over 40 yards last season. He was credited with two tackles at Northwest Missouri. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch and had a 42 yard touchdown reception against Central Oklahoma before moving over to defense against Truman. He had two tackles and a pass break up against the Bulldogs.

Mitchell Foote (Fr.-RS/Enid, Okla.) was impressive during his redshirt season. He was a first-team All-State selection and is Enid HS's all-time leader with 102 receptions for 1,552 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career. Foote was suspended for the FHSU game for a violation of team rules.

Eight players caught at least one pass against Fort Hays State. Drake Smithon (So./Woodward, Okla.) had four catches for 34 yards last season after transferring from Oklahoma State. Dyland Walker (So./Schertz, Texas) had a 44 yard touchdown at Washburn last season. Dewayne Sanford (Fr.-RS/Lawton, Okla.) was an All-District performer for MacArthur HS as a senior. Last season a total of 14 Hornets caught at least one pass of over ten yards, ten had a reception of at least 25 yards and eight had touchdown receptions on the season.

H-back Josh Klumpe (Sr./Olpe, Kan.) had three catches for 25 yards against Fort Hays State with a long of 13 yards. He had one reception entering last season, had three catches for 95 yards and a touchdown in the final two regular season games. He had two receptions for 63 yards and a score at Washburn. He pulled in a 32 yard pass at Northwest Missouri.

Running back Dozie Iwuagwa (Sr./Pittsburg, Calif.) had a career high 86 yards on career high tying18 carrries against Ft. Hays State. He had 357 yards on 91 carries with six touchdowns last season. He led Emporia State with 79 yards on 14 carries with a career high three touchdowns at Truman. He was the first Hornet to have three rushing touchdowns in a game since LaDarrian Page at Southwest Baptist in 2011. He had a career high 18 carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns at Northeastern State. He also had four catches for 54 yards to end with 134 all-purpose yards. He had eight carries for 29 yards, added a 19 yard reception and two kick returns for 54 yards against Neb.-Kearney for 102 all-purpose yards on 11 touches.

Running back Jordan Tice (Jr./Osage City, Kan.) carried the ball 13 times for 38 yards at Ft. Hays State. He had 320 yards on 82 carries last season with two touchdowns. He led Emporia State with 12 carries for 67 yards at Southwest Baptist. He had a career high 91 yards on 12 carries against Central Oklahoma. He had ten carries for 33 yards and a touchdown at Neb.-Kearney. He had 88 yards from scrimmage on 14 carries and four catches with a touchdown against Ft. Hays State. He averaged 9.6 yards per carry with a touchdown as a freshman.

Running back Josh Matthews (Sr./McKinney, Texas) had six carries for 29 yards in his Hornet debut at Ft. Hays State. He transferred to Emporia State last year from Drake where he played in 22 games as a defensive back for the Bulldogs. He is the brother of Hornet defensive end Aaron Matthews.

Running back Antonio Brown (Fr.-RS/St. Louis, Mo.) had seven carries for 19 yards and added a 19 yard reception in his Hornet debut against Ft. Hays State. He was a first-team All-State selection at Christian Brothers HS in St. Louis. He scored 46 touchdowns with over 2600 rushing yards combined as a junior and senior. He had four games with over 200 yards rushing as a senior.

Tackle Aaron Blount (Jr./Garland, Texas) was the Squarehead winner for the Truman and Northwest Missouri games last season. He was the first overall pick in the Hornets 2012 Spring Game Draft.

Tackle Clayton Brown (Jr./Braymer, Mo.) was the Squarehead winner at Neb.-Kearney after transferring from Iowa Central CC.

Danny Goodman (Jr./Emporia, Kan.) has taken over the starting center spot for the Hornets and was named the Squarehead Award winner against Ft. Hays State.

Guard Jordan McAdoo (So./Piedmont, Okla.) started eight games as well between the guard and tackle position and earned Squarehead honors against Lindenwood.

Garrett Ericson (Sr./Bronson, Kan.) worked his way into the starting line up against Ft. Hays State in his third year in the program after transferring from Ft. Scott CC.

Tanner Surber (Jr./Osawatomie, Kan.) saw action in four games last season and is the main back up at both tackle positions.

Emporia State forced Ft. Hays State into drives of three plays or less that ended in a punt or turnover. The Hornets lead the MIAA and are ranked second in the nation after giving up only nine first downs to the Tigers. They lead the MIAA in total defense after they held FHSU to just 207 total yards, with only 44 rushing yards on 20 attempts. It was a balanced effort as 20 Hornets had at least one tackle on the 48 plays run by FHSU.

Safety Chris Poston (Sr./Oklahoma City, Okla.) returns for his final season and has been on several preseason All-American watch lists. He had three tackles against Ft. Hays State. He had four interceptions last season with a season long 47 yard return at Nebraska-Kearney. He also had 41 yard interception return against Texas A&M-Kingsville. He returned to safety and had nine tackles, 1.5 TFL and a pass break up at Washburn after recording five solo tackles and an interception while playing corner at Northwest Missouri. He recorded seven tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass break up against Missouri Western. He had eight tackles, including the final stop on fourth down at Northeastern State. He had five solo tackles against Ft. Hays State after sitting out the previous two seasons. He was an honorable mention All-MIAA pick as a true freshman for the Hornets in 2008. He is one of four team captains.

Safety Kadeem Satchell (Jr./Princeton, Texas) had two solo tackles against Ft. Hays State including one tackle for a loss of five yards. He had 45 tackles last season including a career high ten stops with a pass break up against Missouri Western. He had six tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack at Truman. He had seven tackles, including a tackle for loss against Lincoln in his first career start. He recorded six total tackles in ten games as a freshman.

Brandon Gentz (So./Emporia, Kan.) has moved to safety after playing receiver last season. He had a career high five catches against Lincoln for 16 yards and had one catch for 37 yards against Ft. Hays State.

Cornerback Deveon Dinwiddie (Jr./Hutchinson, Kan.) made an impact in his first game after transferring from NCAA Division I-FCS Champion North Dakota State. He had three tackles and an interception return of 44 yards against Ft. Hays State. He also had a 23 yard kick-off return and a long punt return of 18 yards. He played running back and gained 206 yards on 29 carries in ten games as running back for the Bison last year. He rushed 143 times for a team-high 860 yards and 12 touchdowns for Hutchinson CC and returned four kickoffs for an average of 21.8 yards per return. He was rated a two-star prospect and the 15th best player in Kansas by Rivals.com and played an integral role in Hutchinson HS's four straight state championships.

Cornerback Julian Dozier (Sr./Round Rock, Texas) made his return to the line up against Ft. Hays State after missing most of last season. He saw action in the first two games last year before suffering a broken foot. He was named Defensive Player of the Game by the Hornet coaches after recording seven tackles with a forced fumble against Ft. Hays State last year. He had played in 35 games until his injury.

Cornerback Jarrett Strode (So./St. Charles, Mo.) had three solo tackles and a pass break up against Ft. Hays State. As a freshman he moved into the starting line up late last year as injuries piled up in the Hornet secondary. He was credited with four tackles at Washburn. He had three tackles at Truman. He had 12 total tackles in seven games that included two starts last season after earning all-district honors for Francis Howell HS in St. Charles, Mo. as a senior in high school.

Cornerback Gary Fortune (Sr./Indian Head, Md.) missed the final five games of last season with an ACL injury. He picked off two passes against Lindenwood and had two more pass break ups to go with four tackles before injuring his knee. He had four tackles at Southwest Baptist. He recorded five tackles and a pass break up against Lincoln. He had five tackles and a pass break up against Central Oklahoma after missing the Neb.-Kearney game with a hamstring injury. He had one tackle for loss against Ft. Hays State and added a 24 yard kick return after transferring from Ohio University.

Linebacker Jordan Sanders (Sr./Warner Robins, Ga.) had five tackles and a blocked PAT against Ft. Hays State and was named the Defensive Player of the Game by the Hornet coaching staff. He is back after earning honorable mention All-MIAA honors last season when he was second on the team with 97 total tackles. He is also being mentioned on some preseason All-America lists after grabbing at least ten tackles in each of the last three games, including a season high 15 in the Kanza Bowl against Texas A&M-Kingsville. He had ten tackles at Washburn. He had 11 tackles at Northwest Missouri. He recorded ten tackles at Truman. He had eight tackles with a sack against Lindenwood. He led Emporia State with nine tackles, an interception, 1.5 tackle for loss, two pass break ups and a quarterback hurry against Lincoln. He had ten tackles and a fumble recovery against Central Oklahoma after recording ten tackles and a team high seven solo stops at Neb.-Kearney. He had three tackles and a sack against Ft. Hays State. He was the second leading returning tackler for the Hornets with 65 stops in just seven starts as a sophomore.

Linebacker Ashton Reichmann (Jr./Maize, Kan.) had 21 tackles in 12 games last season for the Hornets. He is in his fifth year with the program. He had 13 total tackles as a sophomore when he saw time on both Hornet special teams and as a reserve linebacker. He was named first team All-State in class 6A at Maize High School where he had 126 tackles during his senior season.

Linebacker Tariq Allen (Jr./Irving, Texas) had four tackles and was credited with the Big Stick Award against Ft. Hays State in his Hornet debut. He was rated among the top 20 inside linebackers in the country as a senior at MacArthur HS before joining the Texas Longhorns. He was rated #4 by ESPN and #16 by rivals.com.

Linebacker Deshawn Dinwiddie (Jr./Hutchinson, Kan.) had three tackles and a fumble recovery against Ft. Hays State. He played in 21 games for NCAA Division I-FCS Champion North Dakota State before transferring to Emporia State. He recorded 24 tackles in 11 games as a sophomore for the Bison and played in 10 games as a true freshman, primarily on special teams. He was a second team all-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I selection for Hutchinson HS in 2010.

Linebacker Corben Abila (So./Weatherford, Texas) had an interception return of 21 yards against Ft. Hays State along with two tackles. He had 16 tackles last year for the Hornets. He was All-District as a utility player in high school as well as being named the team MVP at C.F. Brewer High School.

Linebacker Jason Tetuan (So./Topeka, Kan.) had seven tackles, six of them solo, last year for the Hornets. He was an honorable mention All-State selection and earned All-Centennial League honors on offense and defense for Topeka Hayden HS. His brother John was an All-American baseball player at Wichita State, brother Jesse was a member of the 2003 Big 12 Champion Kansas State football team and brother Jarod was an All-MIAA performer for Washburn in 2007.

Defensive end Aaron Mathews (Sr./McKinney, Texas) is the lone returning starter on the defensive line and he led the Hornets with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. He had four solo tackles, including one for a loss at Washburn. He had three tackles with half a sack at Northwest Missouri. He had two TFL including a sack and was credited with four quarterback hurries against Lindenwood. He had four tackles at Southwest Baptist with a half a sack. He had three solo stops at Northeastern State. He had five tackles with 2.0 TFL including assists on two sacks at Neb.-Kearney. He was the top tackler from the line against Ft. Hays State with five stops, including 1.5 TFL.

Defensive lineman Ryan Louia (Sr./Burlington, Kan.) had a tackle and a pass break up at Fort Hays State. He played in all 12 games with one start last season. He is able to use his size to break up four passes and block two kicks at the line of scrimmage. A fifth year player, he is one of the four Hornet team captains.

Defensive lineman Justin Wilson (So./Luther, Okla.) got the only sack on the night for Emporia State against Ft. Hays State. He saw action in all 12 games last year. He had three tackles against Missouri Western. He had two solo stops, one of them a tackle for loss against Central Oklahoma. He was credited with three tackles, including a tackle for loss at Neb.-Kearney.

Neil Shortell (Sr./Mission Hills, Kan.) led Emporia State with five tackles at Ft. Hays State, including 2.0 tackles for loss. He played six games at UConn after transferring from Butler CC. He had four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown as a tight end for Butler CC in 2011 on his way to All-Jayhawk Conference honors. His brother Eric Shortell hit 23 home runs for the Hornet baseball team in 2008.

Defensive lineman James Junious (So./Arlington, Texas) saw action in nine of 11 games last year. He had a solo tackle at Truman. He had five tackles and a quarterback hurry on the season. He was a second-team All-District pick at defensive end and an Academic All-State selection for Lamar HS.

Nick Schutte (Jr./Elk Run Heights, Iowa) recorded one tackle at Ft. Hays State. He had 36 tackles, 3.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks for Ellsworth CC team that finished last season 7-4 with a win at the Graphic Edge Bowl.

Ryan Kinkaid (Kansas City, Kan.) was named second-team All-Jayhawk Conference at Ft. Scott CC.

Russell Hampton (So./Ottawa, Kan.) had a tackle for loss and a forced fumble against Ft. Hays State.

The Hornets hit three of three field goals and four of five PAT against Ft. Hays State to tie for the MIAA lead in field goals made. Emporia State blocked a PAT by Ft. Hays State. The Hornets had a punt blocked by the Tigers that led to the first score for FHSU. The blocked punt has Emporia State ranked 14th in the MIAA in net punting despite punter Eli Kuhns ranking fourth in the league at 43.5 yards per punt. The Hornets are in the middle of the league in both punt and kick-off returns, ranking seventh in the MIAA in average punt return and eighth in average kick-off return.

After sharing duties last season kicker Eli Kuhns (So./Copperas Cove, Texas) will handle all kicking for the Hornets this year. He went three for three on field goals and four of five on PATs at Ft. Hays State. He is tied for the national lead in made field goals with his three makes. He was ranked seventh in the MIAA and 53rd in the nation in made field goals despite only attempting ones of over 35 yards. He was nine of 12 on field goals last season, with eight of them over 35 yards, including a school record tying 51 yarder against Lincoln. He was named Special Teams Player of the Week by the MIAA and NCAA.com against Lincoln as he hit four field goals all over 37 yards. He was the first true freshman to hit six 40+ field goals in a season in school history and the first Hornet to hit four field goals of over 40 yards since All-American Justin Gray was eight of ten from over 40 yards in 2004. He averaged 53.6 yards on kick-offs with eight touchbacks last season.

For the fourth year in a row, the Hornets will have a home game featured on the MIAA Television Network when they play host to Southwest Baptist on October 12 for Homecoming. Emporia State was featured on the MIAA Television Network twice last year. The Hornets are third behind Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri for the most appearances on the MIAA Network over the last three years. The Thursday, Oct. 25 game against Missouri Western was the first televised match-up of nationally ranked teams from Jones Field at Welch Stadium. The MIAA Network is available live to nearly 2 million homes. The Hornets have played 15 games on live television in the last 16 seasons with six of the games coming from Welch Stadium. Video webcasts for all of Emporia State's regular season games are available on a pay per view basis from americaonesports.com, however the Kanza Bowl is not part of the package. Audio of all ESU games are available at www.kvoe.com with Greg Rahe, Chuck Samples and Ron Thomas providing the call.

The Hornets have gone 10-1 in non-conference games under Garin Higgins and are 21-6 outside the MIAA in the 21st century. Since joining the MIAA, ESU is 30-11 in non-conference games and has lost only three games to unranked non-conference D-II opponents since 1996. The MIAA has sent seven different schools to the NCAA playoffs in the last eight years and has had a team in the national championship game seven of the last nine seasons. The MIAA went 11-3 outside the league last year and are 31-6 outside the league over the last two seasons with five losses coming in postseason play and the sixth by Southwest Baptist against former MIAA member Truman. Three MIAA schools are in the AFCA Division II Preseason Top 25 with three others receiving votes.

The Hornets have had 14 players play in one of the major professional football leagues. Two Hornets have won Super Bowl rings - Kelly Goodburn with the Washington Redskins and Leon Lett with the Dallas Cowboys. Adam Schiltz caught two passes for the Houston Texans in exhibition action this season and is currently on the practice squad with the Tennessee Titans. Harold Ayodele was a part of the Kansas City Chiefs during training camp in 2011. Garin Higgins has coached three players that have gone on to play in the NFL regular season - Lynn Scott with the Dallas Cowboys, Sam Breeden with the Green Bay Packers, and San Diego Charger Patrick Crayton.

The Hornets eight losses over the last two seasons have came to teams that went a combined 77-26 overall and included seven teams ranked in the top ten of Super Region-4. The last seven losses were to teams that were ranked in the AFCA top 25 nationally at some point during the season.

Former Hornet Garin Higgins is the 21st head football coach at Emporia State and is just the second to lead the Hornets to ten wins in a season. Last year he became the sixth Hornet coach to lead his team to the post season. He is 81-47 as a head coach with a 30-38 record at his alma mater. He is 21-13 over the last three seasons. He compiled a 51-9 record as the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University before becoming the co-offensive coordinator at Minnesota State in 2005. He was the offensive coordinator at Northeastern State in 2006.
With five more wins in 2012 than 2011, he led the Hornets to the biggest improvement in wins from one season to the next in Emporia State history. He has helped establish a true home field advantage for ESU, with the Hornets winning at least four home games in three of the last four seasons. He had led the Hornets to within just one game of a post season berth in 2010 and 2011 before winning the Kanza Bowl in 2012.
While at NWOSU, he was named the Central State Football League Coach of the Year five straight years from 2000 through 2004. The Rangers won 31 consecutive games from 1998 through 2000 and were 15-3 against NCAA Division II schools under Higgins.
A native of Blackwell, Okla., Higgins graduated from Emporia State in 1992. He was a four-year letterman for the Hornets and helped lead the team to a national runner-up finish in 1989. He has been involved with four teams that have played for or won national championships as a player, coordinator or head coach. Higgins and his wife Heather, a 1995 graduate of ESU, are the parents of three children - son Halen and daughters Harlee and Gracyn.

Linebacker Ben Carlson was named a Capital One Academic All-American last season. He and offensive lineman Kameron Neal both earned Capital One Academic All-District honors from CoSIDA. Carlson has a 3.84 GPA in business adminstration. He was a two-time Academic All-American in baseball at Missouri State. Neal has a 3.78 GPA in computer operating systems.

Since the MIAA first expanded in 1989 and the new teams became eligible for post season play in 1990, the MIAA has won five national championships and had a representative in 12 of 22 national championship games. The MIAA has been represented in seven of the last nine national championship games. In that time the MIAA is 28-11 in the NCAA Playoffs and 8-4 in bowl games for a combined post season record of 36-15 against non-conference opponents.

Trey Rodgers (Sr./Collinsville, Okla.) started the first five games at guard last year before a season ending injury. He reinjured the knee during training camp and is out for the foreseeable future.

Offensive tackle Jake Roepke (So./Fort Polk, La.) is setting out while an eligibility issue is resolved. He was set to enroll at Emporia State in the fall of 2012 when his tour of duty with the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry of the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division of the United States Army was extended into the school year. Because he was not able to enroll at that time because of his military commitment, he needed to be declared eligible based on his coming out of Royal Valley HS back in 2007. He originally signed with Kansas State out of Royal Valley HS and was a partial qualifier. He played at Butler CC one semester before enlisting in the Army and serving our country in Afghanistan.

A Hornet win would...
•make Emporia State 2-0 overall, 2-0 in the MIAA;
•make Emporia State 18-5 in home openers since joining the MIAA;
•make Emporia State 6-1 in home openers under coach Higgins;
•make Emporia State 7-11 all-time against Nebraska-Kearney;
•be Emporia State's sixth straight win over Nebraska-Kearney;
•be Emporia State's fifth straight win overall dating back to last season;
•make Coach Higgins 31-38 at Emporia State and 82-47 overall.

A Hornet loss would...
•make Emporia State 1-1 overall, 1-1 in the MIAA.
•make Emporia State 17-6 in home openers since joining the MIAA;
•make Emporia State 5-2 in home openers under coach Higgins;
•make Emporia State 6-12 all-time against Nebraska-Kearney;
•snap a five game winning streak by Emporia State over Nebraska-Kearney;
•snap Emporia State's four game winning streak overall dating back to last season;
•make Coach Higgins 30-39 at Emporia State and 81-48 overall.

• The Hornets are 3-8 in overtime games with wins in three of their last five after dropping their first four extra period contests.
• Three of ESU's 11 overtime games have come against Truman with ESU winning two of the three games.
• The quadruple overtime game in 2006 between ESU and PSU was the first MIAA regular season game to go to four overtimes and the first involving an MIAA team since NWMSU’s 4 OT win against Carson Newman in the 1999 National Championship Game.
• ESU's 17 point deficit at the half against MSSU in 2011 was the largest half-time spread the Hornets have overcome for a win since joining the MIAA and matched the greatest deficit ever overcome for a win as an NCAA school. ESU came from 17-0 at the end of the first quarter to defeat Ft. Hays State 24-17 to open the 1992 season.

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