Before jumping out to a 2-0 record to kick off their season, the Emporia State football team would first have to beat a team they hadn’t played since 1990. The team traveled to Nebraska-Kearney to take on the Lopers on Saturday, winning 58-35.
“The only difference (from other teams they’ve faced) is you’re just not that familiar,” said Garin Higgins, head coach. “We haven’t played them since I was playing, but with technology nowadays, there is always film.”
Higgins proved to be right as the Hornets were able to conquer the unfamiliarity of the opposing team.
ESU set the tone in the first half, with 41 of their 58 total points, including 24 unanswered points in the first quarter. They held the Lopers to just 21 points in the first half as well.
With the 20-point lead, the Hornets went on to score an additional 17 points in the second half, including a 32-yard interception return by Tyrone Weaver, senior defensive lineman. The defense held the Lopers to just 13 additional points in the second half.
Senior quarterback Tyler Eckenrode responded from a 414-yard performance last week with yet another strong performance, as he threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns. His go-to receiver, senior Shijuan Richardson, hauled in 15 catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
With the decisive 23-point victory, the Hornets have confidence as they sit 2-0 and head back home to take on a 0-2 Central Oklahoma team on Saturday.
“We have been watching film and learning their coverage,” said sophomore punter Bryan Adams. “We have been working twice as hard at practice and trying to stay humble so the entire squad is mentally prepared.”
According to ESU’s athletic page, the Hornets have a losing history against their upcoming opponents, 9-3-1, coming off a win last year.
“We just have to worry about ourselves and continue to get better,” Higgin said. “This team is still a very good team.”
Kick-off starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Welch Stadium.