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Hornets take control early, hold on for 42-35 MIAA win over Ichabods



For the second straight season Emporia State opened up a big lead over Washburn University and for the second year in a row the Ichabods mounted a furious late-game rally that came up short.

Emporia State, which has now won eight of its past 10 games against Washburn, jumped out to a commanding 42-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter on Saturday before holding on for a 42-35 MIAA victory at Yager Stadium.

ESUGleasonEmporia State quarterback Braden Gleason passed for 300 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday's 42-35 win at Washburn. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

ESUThomasFormer Topeka High standout Corey Thomas (4) tries to get past Washburn defenders Brent Peavler (33) and Christian Clark (25) in Saturday's 42-35 Hornet win over the Ichabods. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Washburn, 3-2 overall and in the MIAA, cut its deficit to seven with 1:54 remaining on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Simoncic to James Letcher Jr., but the Hornets, also 3-2, 3-2, recovered the ensuing onsides kick attempt and were able to run out the clock.

"We fought hard at the end, but we let them get too far ahead,'' Washburn coach Craig Schurig said. "They're a good team. They can frustrate you and they definitely frustrated us.''

The Hornets took a 7-0 lead with an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive, capped by a 7-yard Braden Gleason touchdown pass to Tommy Zimmerman with 7:21 left in the first quarter.

Emporia State made the score 14-0 on a 16-yard TD pass from Gleason to Tyler Kahmann with 6:16 remaining before halftime, but Washburn responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive to get on the board with a 1-yard run from Simoncic with 1:06 left in the half.

Washburn received the second-half kickoff but the Ichabods muffed the kickoff and started their drive at the 3-yard-line.

The Hornets forced a three and out and then took advantage of the short field for a 31-yard touchdown drive, getting an 8-yard touchdown run from Billy Ross Jr. with 11:46 left in the third quarter.

Emporia State made the score 28-7 on a 17-yard Gleason pass to Jaylen Varner before Washburn got back in the game with a 77-yard TD pass from Simoncic to Peter Afful.

The Hornets scored back-to-back TDs to open up a 28-point advantage, with Canaan Brooks scoring on a 15-yard run and Gleason connecting with former Topeka High standout Corey Thomas on a 28-yard scoring pass that proved to be the difference with 13:16 left in the fourth quarter.

Thomas, who had four catches for 60 yards, said it felt good to come back to Topeka and help the Hornets get a second straight win over the Ichabods.

"It's a great feeling, honestly,'' Thomas said. "I have a lot of respect for Washburn and they have a great team over there. They're a lot like us in a lot of ways so it's a great win.''

The Ichabods began their fourth-quarter comeback with a 17-yard TD strike from Simoncic to Afful with 10:43 remaining and got a 12-yard TD pass from Simoncic to Collin Wilson and Letcher's late touchdown, but ESU's Jaedon Pool recovered WU's onsides kick attempt to clinch the victory. 

"It's definitely not how we wanted to end it,'' ESU coach Garin Higgins said of Washburn's late comeback, "but in this league you take wins and I'm going to enjoy this one because we beat a good football team, a well-coached football team.''

WUSimoncic1Washburn quarterback Kellen Simoncic completed a school-record 35 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns in the Ichabods' 42-35 loss to Emporia State. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

WUSimmons1Washburn's Matthew Simmons (84) is upended by an Emporia State defender in Saturday's 42-35 Ichabod loss to the Hornets. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Simoncic passed for 334 yards, completing a school-record 35 of 48 attempts with four touchdowns. He passed the previous best of 34 set by Mike Atkins vs. Wayne State in 1980 and Mitch Schurig at Emporia State last season. 

Afful had 114 yards receiving on five catches and two scores. Letcher finished with 10 catches for 74 yards and one score. Taylon Peters had 36 rushing yards on nine carries.

Grant Bruner led the Ichabods with 14 tackles and Derrick McClendon had eight.

Gleason went 27 of 39 for 300 yards with four touchdowns while adding 22 rushing yards on six carries and one reception for nine yards. Varner was his favorite of 10 receivers, grabbing six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Brooks had 92 rushing yards and a TD on 20 carries.

Former Rossville standout Dawson Hammes led Emporia State with eight tackles.

Washburn will travel to Fort Hays State next Saturday while Emporia State will be at home against Central Missouri.


Emporia State (3-2, 3-2) 7 7 21 7 -- 42

Washburn (3-2, 3-2)        0 7 7 21 -- 35

First quarter

Emporia State -- Zimmerman 7 pass from Gleason (Dodson kick), 7:21

Second quarter

Emporia State -- Kahmann 16 pass from Gleason (Dodson kick), 6:16

Washburn -- Simoncic 1 run (Lake kick), 1:06 

Third quarter

Emporia State -- Ross 8 run (Dodson kick), 11:46

Emporia State -- Varner 17 pass from Gleason (Dodson kick), 7:00

Washburn -- Afful 77 pass from Simoncic (Lake kick), 6:07

Emporia State -- Brooks 15 run (Dodson kick), 1:12

Fourth quarter

Emporia State -- Thomas 28 pass from Gleason (Dodson kick), 13:16

Washburn -- Afful 17 pass from Simoncic, 10:43

Washburn -- Wilson 12 pass from Simoncic (Lake kick), 7:00

Washburn -- Letcherr 8 pass from Simoncic (Lake kick), 1:54


Rushing -- Emporia State: Brooks 20-92, Ross Jr. 16-54, Gleason 6-22, Bennett 1-1. Washburn: Peters 9-36, Simoncic 4-23, Browning 6-13, Letcher 2-2.

Passing -- Emporia State: Gleason 27-39-0, 3000 yards; Amos 1-1-0, 9. Washburn: Simoncic 35-48-1, 334.

Receiving -- Emporia State: Varner 6-78, Schumacher 6-39, Thomas 4-60, Swinehart 3-58, Bennett 3-13, Kahmann 1-16, Ross Jr. 1-13, Amos 1-13, Gleason 1-9, Zimmerman 1-7, Brooks 1-3. Washburn: Letcher 10-74, Simmons 6-55,  Afful 5-114, Wilson 5-42, Peters 5-24, Pivarnik 3-17, Browning 1-8, Brown 1-0.

Punting -- Emporia State: Brungardt 3-41.7; Gleason 2-34.0. Washburn: Wilhelm 3-51.0; Zeller 3-50.0.

Tackles -- Emporia State: Hammes 6 solo-2 assists-8 total; Jaedon Pool 7-0-7. Washburn: Bruner 10-4-14, McClendon 5-3-8.

Attendance -- 6,500.