Tigers defense holds against Emporia State

With two big touchdown drives of just one play each, the Fort Hays State University Tigers (4-3, 4-3 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) were able to put to rest their two game losing streak and hold off Emporia State University (3-4, 3-4 MIAA) 24-21.

Fort Hays scored the games first 21 points all before the first quarter even came to end and it was a late Drew O’Brien, kicker/punter, Hays, junior and an interception by Nathan Lindsey, defensive back, Inskter, Mich., senior, that  was the difference in the game.

Zack Gaughn, tight end, Hays junior who has not quite been utilized the way head coach Chris Brown would like, hauled in the games first score a 52 yard touchdown reception, the longest of Gaughn’s career and the first play of the drive.

“We need to start looking at our tight end a little more,” said Brown.  “Zack’s a big body how could you not hit him.”

After an Ed Brown, defensive back, Bradenton, Fla., senior interception FHSU would strike on the very next play a 42 yard strike to Ed Williams, wide receiver, Tampa, Fla., senior to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead with more than nine minutes left in the first quarter.

“It was good to get things rolling with a couple of touchdowns early,” Gaughn said.

With 22 seconds left in the first quarter Fort Hays would add one more score, a five yard run by Edward Smith, running back, Miami, Fla., senior giving the Tigers a three touchdown lead.

From there, a desperate Emporia State team, down to their third string quarterback would control the tempo the rest of the game.

“There was a couple of plays in a sequence where we lost some momentum, and we just have to do a better job of coming back from that,” Gaughn said.

Neither team would score in the second quarter, but the Hornets were 0 for 3 inside redzone on three straight failed fourth down attempts.

“We just had to dig deep, we didn’t want to give them any points,” Lindsey said.  “This was a crucial game for us.”

After being held scoreless the whole first half, ESU would orchestrate a 13 play, 53 yard drive to open the third quarter that ended with a 20 yard field goal by Austin Morton to make it 21-3.

Fort Hays would try to match the field goal on their next possession, but O’Brien just came up short on a 47 yard attempt, which set up the Hornets to go 70 yards and score off a 17 yard run by Kai Callins to cut the Tigers lead to 21-10.

The Tiger offense which executed well in the first quarter could not find their footing in the third quarter.

“Just our execution changed a little bit, we stopped executing,” said Gaughn.

Both teams would trade fields on each of their next respected possessions to make it 24-13 Fort Hays.

With less than six minutes remaining, Braxton Marshall, a true freshman quarterback hit Justin Brown in the back corner of the endzone to pull the Hornets within three at 24-21.

From there it would be put in the hands of the defense as the offense gave the ball back to Emporia with 2:17 remaining.  There, Lindsey forced the fourth Hornet turnover of the game and it would be the biggest of the game, picking off Marstall on ESU’s first play on the drive.

“They ran that route about four times through the course of the game and I just read and recognized what they were trying to do to us and acted on it,” Lindsey said.

Treveon Albert, quarterback, Atlanta, Ga. junior managed the game well going 14 of 29 for 235 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions.  Gaughn and Williams combined for 8 receptions and 166 yards on the day.

Smith was the leader in the backfield with 70 yards rushing and a touchdown.

On defense both the Lindsey brothers forced turnovers; Nathan Lindsey had the key interception and Daniel Lindsey, defensive back, Inkster, Mich., junior forced a fumble.  Just McPhail, linebacker, Liberal, junior led the way with 15 tackles.

Fort Hays is back at home and will face the previous number one team in the nation Northwest Missouri State University (6-1, 6-1 MIAA).  Northwest will be coming off a embarrassing 35-17 loss to #17 Pittsburg State University (6-1, 6-1 MIAA) last week.

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