Emporia State Football Game Notes At Ft. Hays State

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

GET IT STARTED
Emporia State kicks off its 116th season of intercollegiate football at Ft. Hays State. The Hornets are 20-5 in season openers over the last 25 years and had a ten game season opening winning streak snapped by the Tigers in 2011. In the 115 years of Emporia State football, the Hornets are 64-46-5 in season openers. Emporia State is 15-7 in MIAA openers since joining the league in 1991.

LOOKING BACK
Emporia State enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, finishing 10-2 overall and winning the Kanza Bowl. Their 9-2 record was good for second in the MIAA The Hornets led the MIAA and was ranked tenth in the nation in passing offense. Emporia State also ranked in the top 25 in the nation in total offense, passing efficiency, turnover margin and pass defense efficiency. Tyler Eckenrode led the MIAA and was ranked seventh in the nation in total offense. Shjuan Richardson led the MIAA in receiving yards and was second in receptions. He was ranked sixth in the nation in receiving yards.

THE COACHES
Garin Higgins has compiled a career record of 80-47 as he begins 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 29-38 in his seventh season at his alma mater and is 20-14 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.
Chris Brown is 9-13 his third year as head coach at Ft. Hays State. He is 1-1 against Emporia State.

SCOUTING THE HORNETS
Emporia State returns 14 regular starters from last year's 10-2 team that went 9-2 in the MIAA. Preseason All-Americans Chris Poston and Jordan Sanders anchor the defense while four of five starters return on the offensive line. The Hornets received votes in the AFCA Preseason Poll and were picked 7th in the MIAA Preseason Polls.

SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Ft. Hays State went 5-6 last season and 4-6 in the MIAA. They return eight starters, four each on offense and defense. Michael Jordan is the top returning tackler for the Tigers after ranking 13th in the MIAA last year with 87 tackles.

THE SERIES
This will be the 87th meeting between the two schools with Emporia State holding a 50-34-2 edge. It is the 56th consecutive year the two schools have met on the football field, making it the Hornets' longest continuous rivalry and the third most played series for Emporia State behind Washburn and Pittsburg State. The home team has won nine of the last 11 meetings in the series including the last seven games.

LAST TIME AGAINST FHSU
Tyler Eckenrode threw for 414 yards on 23 of 37 passing with two touchdowns as Emporia State opened the season with a 41-18 win over Ft. Hays State at Welch Stadium. Shjuan Richardson was his favorite target with six receptions for 148 yards as eight different Hornets caught a pass. Ray Ray Davis added 84 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Jordan Tice was the leading rusher for the Hornets with 51 yards on 14 carries.

UP NEXT
The Hornets play host to Neb.-Kearney on Thursday, September 12 at 6 p.m.

JUST LIKE OLD TIMES
Emporia State and Ft. Hays State have met in the season opener 14 times since 1991 and 18 times overall. That makes it the most played season opener for the Hornets, who hold a 14-4 advantage in the first game of the season. This is the 56th consecutive year the two schools have met on the gridiron, making it Emporia State's longest continuously played rivalry.

THE POLLS SAY
For the first time since 2004, the Emporia State football team will begin the season receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NCAA Division II Preseason Poll. If the poll were carried out, the Hornets would be ranked #38 with 20 points. The Hornets are one of six MIAA teams receiving votes. The last time Emporia State was in the AFCA Preseason Poll was prior to the 2004 season. The Hornets were #28 with 62 points after posting a 9-3 record, winning a share of the MIAA Championship and making their first appearance in the NCAA Playoffs in 2003.
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.

IN DEMAND
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 are 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.

THAT'S OFFENSIVE
Emporia State led the MIAA in passing offense and was second in the league in total offense and third in scoring offense last season. Emporia State scored at least 40 points in six games for the first time in school history. For the first time in school history the Hornets opened the season with at least 40 points in each of their first three games.

LEADING THE WAY
Quarterback Brent Wilson (So./Ponca City, Okla.) won the right to step in for graduated Tyler Eckenrode during training camp. Wilson saw action in nine games as a true freshman in 2012. He was three for four for 70 yards and a touchdown over his last three games. He completed his first touchdown pass of his career with a 44 yarder at Washburn. He completed his only pass attempt against Missouri Western and added 25 yards on two carries. He came to Emporia State after earning Oklahoma Coaches Association Class 6A All-Star honors at Ponca City HS. He threw for 2,747 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior.

THE FIFTH ELEMENT
Quarterback Corben Jones (Fr.-RS/Yukon, Okla.) 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.

WITHIN REASON
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.

TARHEEL TORNADO
A big receiver with a knack for making catches in traffic, Ray Ray Davis (Sr./Indian Trail, N.C.) has 111 catches for 1,439 yards in his first two seasons with the Hornets. 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 had seven games with at least 80 yards receiving last year. 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 five catches for 85 yards at Southwest Baptist. He had five catches for 44 yards against Lincoln. He had 97 yards on six catches at Northeastern State following a six reception, 91 yard day against Central Oklahoma. He had two catches for 17 yards and a touchdown at Neb.-Kearney. He had four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown against Ft. Hays State and all four of his catches resulted in first downs. As a junior he was sixth in the MIAA in receptions with 50 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns in ten games.

WHAT YOU TALKIN' ABOUT
Receiver Austin Willis (Jr./Topeka, Kan.) caught 26 passes last season for 326 yards. Also a member of the Hornet track team, he has shown big play potential with a 74 yard touchdown grab to give Emporia State the lead at Southwest Baptist last season. He had three catches for 28 yards and a touchdown at Washburn. His 73 yard touchdown catch gave Emporia State the lead at Southwest Baptist and is the fourth longest play from scrimmage last year for the Hornets. He opened the season with four catches for 70 yards at Neb.-Kearney and three receptions for 58 yards against Ft. Hays State.

MAGIC
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.

MORE TARGETS
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. 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. 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.

HIGHWAY 99 ALL-STAR
H-back Josh Klumpe (Sr./Olpe, Kan.) 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.

REESE'S PIECES
H-Back Reese Richards (Fr.-RS/Azle, Texas) earned second-team All-District honors at both tight end and defensive end for Azle HS and was named the team MVP as a senior.

TICE IS NICE
Running back Jordan Tice (Jr./Osage City, Kan.) 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.

THAT'S A DOZIE
Running back Dozie Iwuagwa (Sr./Pittsburg, Calif.) 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. He had 29 yards on nine carries against Ft. Hays State last season after transferring from Diablo Valley CC.

BROWN AND SERVE
Running back Antonio Brown (Fr.-RS/St. Louis, Mo.) 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.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
Emporia State used eight different starting combinations in their 12 games last season. Tackle Aaron Blount (Jr./Garland, Texas) was the Squarehead winner for the Truman and Northwest Missouri games. 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. Jordan McAdoo (So./Piedmont, Okla.) started eight games as well between the guard and tackle position and earned Squarehead honors against Lindenwood. Trey Rodgers (Sr./Collinsville, Okla.) started the first five games at guard before a season ending injury. Danny Goodman (Jr./Emporia, Kan.) and Garrett Ericson (Sr./Bronson, Kan.) to be upperclassmen competing for the interior spots on the line as well. Tanner Surber (Jr./Osawatomie, Kan.) saw action in four games last season. Among the newcomers Jake Roepke (So./Marietta, Kan.) returns to the gridiron after serving four years with the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division of the United States Army. He originally signed with Kansas State our of Royal Valley HS and played at Butler CC.

GETTING DEFENSIVE
Emporia State was ranked second in the MIAA in pass defense efficiency, interceptions, and takeaways. They were ranked eighth in the nation in pass defense efficiency. Their shutout of Lindenwood was the first time Emporia State shutout an MIAA opponent since a 24-0 win over Missouri Southern on Sept. 23, 2000.

POST UP POSTON
Safety Chris Poston (Sr./Oklahoma City, Okla.) returns for his final season and has been on several preseason All-American watch lists. 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.

IT'S IN THE BAG
Safety Kadeem Satchell (Jr./Princeton, Texas) 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 recorded five tackles at Southwest Baptist. He had seven tackles, including a tackle for loss against Lincoln in his first career start. He had four tackles at Neb.-Kearney. He recorded six total tackles in ten games as a freshman.

SAFETY IN NUMBERS
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.

WHEEL OF FORTUNE
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.

BULL DOZIER
Cornerback Julian Dozier (Sr./Round Rock, Texas) saw action in the first two games 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.

THE BATTLE OF FIVE FORKS
Cornerback Deveon Dinwiddie (Jr./Hutchinson, Kan.) should make an impact after transferring from NCAA Division I-FCS Champion North Dakota State. 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.

SPARTACUS
Cornerback Jarrett Strode (So./St. Charles, Mo.) 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.

THE COLONEL
Linebacker Jordan Sanders (Sr./Warner Robins, Ga.) 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.

PUNKED
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.

STRIKER
Linebacker Tariq Allen (Jr./Irving, Texas) 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.

THE GOVERNOR
Linebacker Deshawn Dinwiddie (Jr./Hutchinson, Kan.) 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.

PILLAR OF HERCULES
Linebacker Corben Abila (So./Weatherford, Texas) 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.

BLOODLINES
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 second-team 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.

REMEMBER TWO THINGS
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.

LOUIE, LOUIE
Defensive lineman Ryan Louia (Sr./Burlington, Kan.) 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.

WILSON!
Defensive lineman Justin Wilson (So./Luther, Okla.) 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.

A TREE
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.

NEW TO YOU
Three transfers will be expected to provide immediate help to the defensive line. Ryan Kinkaid (Kansas City, Kan.) from Ft. Scott CC, Nick Schutte (Jr./Elk Run Heights, Iowa) from Ellsworth CC, and Neil Shortell (Sr./Mission Hills, Kan.) from UConn should all work into the rotation. Kincaid was named second-team All-Jayhawk Conference for the Greyhounds. Schutte 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. Shortell 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.

ISN'T THAT SPECIAL
The Hornets have hit 20 of 25 field goals, including seven from over 40 yards, and went 50 of 51 on PATs last season. The 20 field goals made tied the Emporia State record and ranked second in the nation last season. The seven made field goals against Lincoln is an MIAA record and was more than Emporia State has had in 29 of the last 40 complete seasons. The Hornets blocked four PAT's, a punt and a field goal last year.

BOOK OF ELI
After sharing duties last season kicker Eli Kuhns (So./Copperas Cove, Texas) should handle all kicking for the Hornets this year. 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.

DID YOU CATCH IT
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.

OUTSIDE THE CONFERENCE
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 30-5 outside the league over the last two seasons with all five losses coming in postseason play. Three MIAA schools are in the AFCA Division II Preseason Top 25 with three others receiving votes.

THE NFL EXPERIENCE
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 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.

TOUGH LOSSES
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.

HEAD COACH GARIN HIGGINS
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 80-47 as a head coach with a 29-38 record at his alma mater. He is 20-13 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.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
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.

MIAA IN THE POSTSEASON
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.

A Hornet win would...
•make Emporia State 1-0 overall, 1-0 in the MIAA;
•make Emporia State 65-46-5 all-time in season openers;
•give Emporia State a 16-7 record in MIAA openers;
•make Emporia State 51-34-2 all-time against Ft. Hays State;
•snap a seven game winning streak by the home team in the series;
•be Emporia State's first win in Hays since 2005;
•make Coach Higgins 6-1 in season openers at Emporia State and 11-1 all-time in season openers;
•make Coach Higgins 30-38 at Emporia State and 81-47 overall.

A Hornet loss would...
•make Emporia State 0-1 overall, 0-1 in the MIAA.
•make Emporia State 64-47-5 all-time in season openers;
•give Emporia State a 15-8 record in MIAA openers;
•make Emporia State 50-35-2 all-time against Ft. Hays State;
be the eighth straight win by the home team in the series;
•make Coach Higgins 5-2 in season openers at Emporia State and 10-2 all-time in season openers;
•make Coach Higgins 29-39 at Emporia State and 80-48 overall.

WORKING OVERTIME
• 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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