By BEN JOHNSON
No. 14 Emporia State hung tough with No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth for a quarter before the Bulldogs went full-throttle in the final three quarters to bounce the Hornets from the playoffs with a 55-13 victory in frigid Duluth, Minn., on Saturday.
The Hornets (9-2) were tied at 13-all with Minnesota-Duluth at the end of the first quarter, but the Bulldogs tallied 28 unanswered points in the second quarter to all but put the game away.
Playing without standout quarterback Brent Wilson, Emporia State managed only 173 yards through the air. Corben Jones completed only 12 of 31 passes while tossing five interceptions.
The Hornets also couldn’t run the ball, finishing with minus-two yards on 30 carries.
Minnesota-Duluth (11-1) had two 100-yard rushers in Drew Bauer (173) and Austin Sikorski (122) and the two combined for 29 carries. Bauer also ran for four touchdowns, including three in the decisive second period.
Bearcats begin playoff run
With Emporia State’s playoff loss, the only MIAA team left in the Division II national playoffs is Northwest Missouri State. The Bearcats, after getting a first-round bye, will host Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday at noon in Maryville, Mo.
The Bearcats, the MIAA champions this season, ended the regular season 11-0 overall.
In 2012, Northwest Missouri State was eliminated by Minnesota State-Mankato in the second round of the playoffs. The Mavericks beat the Bearcats 38-25 in Mankato, Minn.