The football team is now 4-0 on the season after a weekend win against the Riverhawks of Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Okla., 30-20.
Clinging to a 3-point lead, senior receiver Shjuan Richardson hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Tyler Eckenrode to boost the Hornets up 30-20 with just 3:49 left in the game.
“They came in together as freshman. Both (are) three year starters and have thrown countless balls together,” said Garin Higgins, head coach. “I’d be a rich man if I counted how many times they have thrown passes to each other, and those are the guys you look to make plays like that.”
The Hornets first scored thanks to a 27-yard chip-in field goal. Emporia State built on that with a touchdown run by senior running back Derwin Hall right before the half, pushing the score to 9-0, making it the fourth straight game the defense has shut out the opposing team in the first quarter.
Junior running back Dozie Iwuagwa continued the ground success in the second half with an 11-yard plunge to make the score 16-3 in the third quarter. After allowing a field goal by the Riverhawks, the Hornets responded with an interception by senior defensive back Kevin Gaddis. Iwuagwa scored another touchdown run, and Emporia cruised to a 23-6 lead.
With the game in the Hornets’ favor, the Riverhawks responded with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. That’s when Eckenrode and Richardson hooked up for an 11-yard touchdown pass to seal the victory.
“Our defense played great and we responded well and stuck together,” Eckenrode, a management information systems major, said in an interview with Media Relations after the game. “At the same time, we still have a lot to work on.”
ESU ended up with 229 yards in total offense, and 223 yards in defense. Hall ended up with 85 yards and a touchdown off of 18 carries. Iwuagwa also had 18 carries for 80 yards and 2 scores.
Senior linebacker Ben Carlson led with 10 tackles. Junior defensive back Chris Poston came away in a close second with nine tackles.
“We didn’t have our starter (running back), so it was nice to have Dozie and Derwin step up,” Higgins said. “They played outstanding.”
According to the ESU website, this is the first time the Hornets have been 4-0 since 2003, and the first time they have scored more than 30 points per game since 1969.
The Hornets look to carry this momentum with their fourth straight victory as they head back home to take on Lincoln University at 1 p.m. Saturday at Welch Stadium.