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Washburn, Emporia State set to square off in Turnpike Tussle



Coming off a big road victory, Washburn University football returns home Saturday to face Emporia State in a 4 p.m. Hall of Fame contest at Yager Stadium.

 KellenSimoncicactionWashburn sophomore quarterback Kellen Simoncic has thrown for 11 touchdowns entering Saturday's 4 p.m. MIAA contest against Emporia State at Yager Stadium. [Photo courtesy of Washburn Athletics]

Saturday's meeting will be the 118th all-time between the two teams, with Washburn 3-1 overall and in the MIAA and Emporia State 2-2 and 2-2.

Washburn bounced back from a 21-13 home loss to Nebraska-Kearney in Week 3 with a 38-31 overtime victory at Missouri Western last Saturday while Emporia State is coming off a 14-13 loss to No. 14-ranked Pittsburg State last Saturday in Emporia.

The Washburn-Emporia State series is the second-most played series in NCAA Division II history as South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State have reclassified to NCAA Division II. Those two schools have met 134 times dating back to 1895.

The Hornets lead the all-time series 58-53-6 and have won seven of the last nine meetings dating back to 2012. Prior to that the Ichabods ran off eight straight wins over the Hornets from 2004 to 2011.

Emporia State topped Washburn 35-30 a year ago at Welch Stadium as the Ichabods' late-game comeback rally from a 35-10 deficit coming up short. 

Washburn sophomore quarterback Kellen Simoncic is sixth in the nation in passing touchdowns with 11 and is averaging 279.2 yards of total offense per game.

Ichabod senior linebacker Grant Bruner leads the nation in tackles at 14.5 per game, including 8.2 solo stops per game.

James Letcher Jr. is eighth in the nation with five receiving touchdowns, eighth in receiving yards (485) and ninth in receiving yards per game (121.2). He is also 17th in all-purpose yards (153.3) per game and 28th in total touchdowns (5).

Letcher is ranked third in active NCAA D2 players with 4,685 all-purpose yards and fourth with 2,401 receiving yards and third with 175 receptions.

Offensively Emporia State is seventh in the MIAA in scoring offense (26.0) and second in scoring defense (16.0).

The Hornets lead the MIAA in passing yards per game (307.5) and they are ranked third in the conference in pass defense, allowing 163.5 yards per game.

ESU quarterback Braden Gleason leads the MIAA with 1,230 passing yards and completions with 106 while averaging 307.5 yards per game.

Former Topeka High standout Corey Thomas is sixth in the MIAA in receiving yards with three touchdowns annd 17.9 yards per catch. Cade Harelson ranks third in the MIAA with 36 tackles, including 14 solo stops.

Following Saturday's contest Washburn will go on the road for two straight games, starting with a 7 p.m. contest on Oct. 8 at Fort Hays State. The Ichabodss will play at Northwest Missouri on Oct. 15.

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