TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State was able to hold Emporia State well below its inflated scoring average. Problem was the RiverHawks couldn't score until it was too late.
NSU pieced together a furious rally in the fourth quarter, but the RiverHawks still came up on the winless end in MIAA play again.
The end result: Emporia State 30 NSU 20.
"We had some drops, we missed some open receivers, we definitely missed some blocks," Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans said. "We had some good plays, but you mix those with the bad plays, and you're not productive."
The RiverHawks (0-4, 0-4 MIAA) were limited to 137 yards of total offense through three quarters. However, once they got going, it was too late.
Emporia State (4-0, 4-0) put the game away when quarterback Tyler Eckenrode connected with former Muskogee standout Shjuan Richardson for an 11-yard touchdown pass, giving the Hornets a 10-point edge with 3:49 left.
"We were trying to get (Richardson) loose, but NSU had been doing a good job, secondary-wise," said Emporia State head coach Garin Higgins, whose team was held 72 yards under its total offense average and 17 points below its average point total.
"They pressed our receivers, and they played two safeties over the top of (Richardson)."
Richardson's TD catch, in essence, put the game out of reach, but it was a 31-yard screen pass from Eckenrode to Dozie Iwuagwa on third-and-6 that crushes NSU's comeback chances.
"Our Mike linebacker was in man coverage on the back and their tackle released up field and held him," said Evans, whose team allowed the Hornets to go 48 yards in five plays on their final scoring drive.
"That's a call that you get most of the time, but they didn't call it. Those things happen. They basically tackled the guy that had man coverage on the guy they threw the screen to, so of course it's going to be a big play when that happens."