The Emporia State football team overcame a 16-point deficit in the third quarter only to watch Pittsburg State capitalize on a handful of Hornet miscues in what ended as a 47-23 loss to the Gorillas.
The game was knotted up at 23 entering the game's final 14 minutes, but a pair of quickly-managed scoring drives by the Gorillas as well as a pair of interceptions by sophomore quarterback Dalton Cowan led to the Hornets' first loss of the season.
It was PSU that first gifted the Hornets a scoring opportunity. After an opening drive that lasted more than eight minutes resulted in a missed field goal attempt, the Gorillas had just four plays before a fumble returned the ball to ESU.
From there, Cowan finished a three-play, 30-yard drive with a nine-yard pass to J.T. Mackey to put the Hornets in front.
Pittsburg State got a 47-yard field goal late in the first and held a 13-7 lead at halftime after a 1-yard touchdown run and another field goal right before intermission.
The Gorillas extended their lead to 16 after another 1-yard run by Horak and another field goal in the third quarter.
That's when ESU again showed signs of life. After the third kick, ESU's first play from scrimmage was a handoff from Cowan to running back Carlos Grace, who skipped through the left side of the field, escaping a pair of would-be tackles before hitting the burners for a 71-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion cut the deficit down to eight points.
The Hornet defense held Pitt again to a three-and-out, allowing ESU to maintain its offensive momentum, using an 8-play, 86-yard drive to tie the game after Cowan ran it in himself from five yards out.
Pitt responded immediately, scoring on its next possession to retake the lead, 30-23. The Hornets appeared poised to answer once more, but the drive stalled on the PSU 20-yard line where another field goal attempt bounced off the right goalpost, leaving the Hornets without any points.
From there, the Gorillas took control.
Cowan completed 19 of 33 passes for 174 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Grace led the Hornets with 16 carries for 142 yards on the night.
ESU (1-1) will next host Nebraska-Kearney on Sept. 21.