By BEN JOHNSON
Northeastern State was able to hold Emporia State well below its inflated scoring average. Problem was the RiverHawks couldn't score until it was too late.
NSU pieced together a furious rally in the fourth quarter, but the RiverHawks still came up on the winless end in MIAA play again.
The end result: Emporia State 30 NSU 20.
"We had some drops, we missed some open receivers, we definitely missed some blocks," Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans said. "We had some good plays, but you mix those with the bad plays, and you're not productive."
The RiverHawks (0-4, 0-4 MIAA) were limited to 137 yards of total offense through three quarters. However, once they got going, it was too late.
Emporia State (4-0, 4-0) put the game away when quarterback Tyler Eckenrode connected with former Muskogee standout Shjuan Richardson for an 11-yard touchdown pass, giving the Hornets a 10-point edge with 3:49 left.
"We were trying to get (Richardson) loose, but NSU had been doing a good job, secondary-wise," said Emporia State head coach Garin Higgins, whose team was held 72 yards under its total offense average and 17 points below its average point total.
"They pressed our receivers, and they played two safeties over the top of (Richardson)."
Richardson's TD catch, in essence, put the game out of reach, but it was a 31-yard screen pass from Eckenrode to Dozie Iwuagwa on third-and-6 that crushes NSU's comeback chances.
"Our Mike linebacker was in man coverage on the back and their tackle released up field and held him," said Evans, whose team allowed the Hornets to go 48 yards in five plays on their final scoring drive.
"That's a call that you get most of the time, but they didn't call it. Those things happen. They basically tackled the guy that had man coverage on the guy they threw the screen to, so of course it's going to be a big play when that happens."
Northeastern State moved the ball down to the Hornets' 22-yard line on its final drive, but three Johnny Deaton incompletions, coupled with a 4-yard pass to Jahmai Coleman on fourth down, forced the RiverHawks to give the ball over on downs.
Deaton finished the game 20 of 46 passing for 201 yards and an interception. He also threw a touchdown pass — a 17-yard hook-up with Jermaine Sherman for NSU's first touchdown of the night, at the 9:50 mark of the fourth quarter.
"It was frustrating for the first half," Evans said. "On the good side, we came out and did some positive things in the second half."
The RiverHawks made it a 23-20 contest when Joel Rockmore scored on a 9-yard run with 5:34 left. Rockmore, who rushed for 176 yards against Washburn last week, led NSU in rushing again with 77 yards on 15 carries.
Emporia State's running game was led by the two-headed attack of Derwin Hall and Iwuagwa. The duo combined for 165 rushing yards on 36 carries.
Hall scored his lone touchdown on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter. With a 27-yard Derek Jonas field goal in the first quarter, the Hornets led 9-0.
Iwuagwa scored his two touchdowns in the third quarter — on runs of 11 and 7 yards.
NSU's only answer for three quarters was two Drew Patton field goals, a 24- and 47-yarder — a new career long.
Eckenrode, the reigning Offensive Player of the Week in the MIAA, only had 229 yards on 19 of 27 passing. The Hornets' leading receiver this season, Richardson, was held to three catches for 53 yards.
"Credit Northeastern's defense, they did a great job," Higgins said. "It's always going to be easy; we're not always going to be great offensively every week. It's not going to happen. So it was good to see our defense play outstanding in the first half."
Emporia State 30, Northeastern State 20
ESU 3 6 14 7 -- 30
NSU 0 0 6 14 -- 20
EMPORIA STATE — Derek Jonas 27-yard field, 4:09.
ESU — Derwin Hall 2-yard (Jonas kick failed), 3:44
NORTHEASTERN STATE — Drew Patton 24-yard field goal, 12:59.
ESU — Dozie Iwuagwa 11-yard run (Jonas kick), 9:51.
NSU — Patton 47-yard field goal, 9:01.
ESU — Iwuagwa 7-yard run (Jonas kick), 2:23.
NSU — Jermaine Sherman 17-yard pass from Johnny Deaton (Patton kick), 9:50.
NSU — Joel Rockmore 9-yard run (Patton kick), 5:34.
ESU — Shjuan Richardson 11-yard pass from Tyler Eckenrode (Jonas kick), 3:49.
First downs 23 17
Rush 9 9
Pass 12 7
Penalty 2 1
Rush-Yds 48-223 31-147
Pass Comp 19 20
Pass Att 27 46
INT's thrown 1 1
Pass Yds 229 201
Total Yds 452 348
Punt-avg. 5-40.0 7-36.9
Fumble-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalty-Yds 5-57 7-86
Emporia State: Derwin Hall 18-85; Northeastern State: Joel Rockmore 15-77
Emporia State: Tyler Eckenrode 19-27-1 229; Johnny Deaton 20-46-1 201
Emporia State: Ray Ray Davis 6-97; Northeastern State: Jermaine Sherman 9-63