Emporia State has made the most of its third NCAA football playoff appearance, collecting two road victories to reach a Division II quarterfinal that matches the Hornets and Northwest Missouri State in Maryville on Saturday. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
It marks the third time in six years that the Super Regional 3 championship is an all-MIAA affair.
The Hornets displayed strength on both sides of the ball in their NCAA victories. They rolled up 474 total yards in a 51-49 win at Minnesota State-Mankato in the first round. Austin Morton’s 33-yard field goal as time expired, a drive set up by J.P. Lohrentz’s interception, was the game-winner.
A week later, Emporia shut down Henderson State 29-3, surrendering 137 total yards.
The Hornets, 11-2, showed their offensive versatility in the games, with quarterback Brent Wilson passing for 437 yards and five touchdowns in the first playoff game, and running back Landon Nault rushing for a season-best 179 yards in the second game.
Wilson is one of eight finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded to the top player in Division II. He’s thrown for 3,920 yards and 39 touchdowns this season.
Emporia has won in the NCAA playoffs for the first time. Northwest Missouri State is bidding for its fifth national championship.
The top-ranked Bearcats, 12-0, advanced to the quarterfinal with a 54-7 walloping of Humboldt State. The 47-point winning margin was the largest in Northwest’s playoff history.
Quarterback Brady Bolles passed for 276 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the defense held Humboldt to 48 total yards in 45 plays.
Saturday’s winner will face the winner of Super Regional 2 between West Georgia and Tuskegee University in the national semifinal.
That winner advances to the title game on Dec. 19 at Sporting Park.
All-MIAA quarterfinals (since 2010)
2010: Northwest Missouri 37, Central Missouri 20
2011: Pittsburg State 41, Northwest Missouri 16
2015: Emporia State at Northwest Missouri State