Emporia State football coach Garin Higgins didn’t know if having played Northwest Missouri State in the season opener, giving the Hornets more than three months to forget about a four-touchdown loss, was beneficial to his team.
But he knew this: “I expect us to play our best game of the year,” he said. “We’re going to have to.”
Emporia State, 11-1, which walloped Minnesota-Duluth 59-26 in last weekend’s NCAA Division II playoff opener, visits the Bearcats on Saturday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Last week, Hornets sophomore quarterback Braxton Marstall had his best game of the season, passing for 481 yards and five touchdowns.
Northwest Missouri, 11-0, is the nation’s top-ranked team. The defending national champion Bearcats, who eliminated MIAA rival Emporia State from last year’s playoffs, are riding a 26-game winning streak.
At 49 points per game, Northwest Missouri has the highest-scoring team in coach Adam Dorrel’s six seasons. Quarterback Kyle Zimmerman, a fifth-year senior who went to Blue Valley High School, is making the most of his first year as a starter. He’s thrown 34 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.
Baker takes on Lindsey Wilson
Baker plays host to Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) on Saturday in an NAIA quarterfinal. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on KSMO (Channel 62).
Last week, second-ranked Baker, 12-0, defeated Sterling 44-21. Quarterback Logan Brettell leads the NAIA with 4,150 passing yards and 42 touchdowns.
Lindsey Wilson averages 48.3 points per game. It’s the first meeting between the teams, and a Baker triumph will send the Wildcats to the national semifinals for the first time since 1993.