Hornets Take National Ranking To Bolivar

By: ESU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: ESU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

Undefeated and 25th ranked Emporia State hits the road to Bolivar, Mo. to take on Southwest Baptist. Emporia State has never gone 6-0 in MIAA play since joining the league in 1991 and haven't been 6-0 since 1988. Since starting last season 1-4, the Hornets have gone 9-2 and averaged 38.4 points and 473.4 yards per game.

Emporia State connected on an MIAA record seven field goals by three different players on their way to a 37-26 victory over Lincoln on Saturday at Welch Stadium. The win moved the Hornets to 5-0 on the season and is the best start by Emporia State since 2003. Tyler Eckenrode finished the day 22 of 36 for 197 yards through the air and added 52 rushing yards on 12 carries. Derwin Hall led Emporia State in rushing for the second straight game with 60 yards on eight carries with two touchdowns. Shjuan Richardson had a team high seven receptions for 66 yards as nine different Hornets caught a pass. Jordan Sanders led the Emporia State defense with nine tackles, 1.5 TFL, an interception and two pass break ups.

Garin Higgins has compiled a career record of 75-45 as he begins his 11th season as a head coach. He has led the Hornets to within just one game of a post season berth each of the last two seasons. He is 24-36 in his sixth season at his alma mater and is 15-12 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 2-0 against SBU.
Keith Allen is 25-35 in his sixth year at SBU. He is 0-2 against Emporia State.

Emporia State leads the MIAA and are ranked in the top 11 nationally in total offense. They have not allowed a first quarter point all season and lead the MIAA in interceptions. The Hornets have scored at least 30 points in nine of their last 11 games dating back to Oct. 8, 2011 to go 9-2. The nine wins against MIAA teams are the second most against conference foes in regular season play behind Missouri Western, who is 10-0 in that time.

Southwest Baptist is 1-4 overall and 1-4 in the MIAA in their first year back in the league after four years of competing as an independent. Chris Muhammad is third in the MIAA in punt return average including a 93 yard touchdown return. They are the only MIAA team to not allow an opponent to convert on fourth down this season.

This is the 19th contest between the two and the second straight in Bolivar. The Hornets lead the series 15-3 and have won the last seven meetings. Emporia State is 8-1 against SBU in Bolivar with the lone win a 17-10 decision in 2001.

Emporia State rolled to 511 yards of offense and forced six turnovers in a 42-28 win at Southwest Baptist. LaDarrian Page had a career high 201 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns to lead the Hornet offense while Derek Lohmann picked off a career high three interceptions.

Emporia State returns to Emporia for a Homecoming contest against Lindenwood. Kick-off is set for 2:00 p.m. from Jones Field at Welch Stadium.

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