JOPLIN, Mo. — Carlos Grace became the first Hornet since Brian Shay to have three rushing touchdowns of more than 69 yards in a season as Emporia State defeated 29-6 on Saturday afternoon in Joplin, Mo.
Both teams came out slow on offense with the only score of the first quarter being a 37-yard field goal by Clark Schoonover with 4:07 left in the first quarter. That would be the last score until Braden Gleason connected with Wil Amos for a 42 yard touchdown with 2:21 left in the half as the Hornets led 9-0 going to the locker room.
Missouri Southern was forced to punt on its opening possession of the second half, setting the Hornets at their own 95-yard line. It took ESU just three plays to score with Grace going 69 yards to put the Hornets up 15-0 as the PAT hit the crossbar.
On MSSU’s next possession, Lawson Holbert picked off Sean Kelly and returned it to the Lions’ 24-yard line. Four plays later the Hornets returned the favor as Gleason fumbled and Alex Alvarado recovered it for the Lions at the Southern 10. Emporia State’s defense forced a three and out and took over at the MSSU 39-yard line following a 15-yard punt return by Travon Jones. Nine plays later, Dalton Cowan sneaked in from a yard out and Sam Dobbins’ PAT was good to put the Hornets up 22-0 with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
The Lions broke a string of seven straight scoreless quarters against the Hornets early in the fourth. Kelly hit Keandre Bledsoe for a 54-yard touchdown but the snap on the PAT was high and Southern was not able to convert the try.
The Hornets put an exclamation point on the win when Gleason connected with Cole Schumacher from 23 yards out with 3:24 left to go up 29-6. Holbert sealed the win for good when he picked off his second pass of the night with 1:01 left.
Grace had a career high 176 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown as Emporia State accumulated 305 yards on the ground. Gleason was 14 of 34 for 222 yards with two touchdowns and added 81 rushing yards on 12 carries. Wil Amos was the top receiver for the Hornets with five catches for 63 yards.
Holbert led the Hornet defense with 10 tackles and two interceptions while Parker Bass had a season high 2.5 sacks for Emporia State.
The Hornets will wrap up the season on Saturday, November 16 when they play host to Central Oklahoma. Kick-off from Jones Field at Welch Stadium is set for 2:00 p.m.