Two DII football upsets happened almost simultaneously in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Saturday. No. 16 Northwest Missouri State downed long-time rival No. 8 Pittsburg State 31-7, while some heroics in the final minute helped Emporia State defeat No. 18 Fort Hays State 28-24.

Rumble in ‘The Jungle’

The Bearcats traveled to the unfriendly environs of Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kansas with revenge on their minds. Tabbed one of NCAA.com’s five games to watch, the Bearcats didn’t disappoint, dominating the Gorillas 31-7.

Northwest Missouri State last played in Carnie Smith Stadium on Oct. 28, 2017. Then, an unranked Pittsburg State ended the Bearcats historic 38-game winning streak. This time around, the Bearcats returned the favor, snapping the Gorillas 11-game win streak dating back to October 14 of last year. 

As he has all season, redshirt-freshman quarterback Braden Wright led the charge with 211 yards passing, two touchdowns and 16 yards more on the ground. Junior running back Isaiah Strayhorn had his biggest game of the season against a stout rushing defense, putting up 147 yards on the ground and a touchdown. His previous best in 2018 was an 88-yard performance against Washburn in Week 2.

Pittsburg State’s lone score came in the final seconds of the game when Matt Harman found Elijah Harris for a 10-yard touchdown. That means the Bearcats have still not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. What is more mind-boggling is that the Bearcats didn’t allow a rushing touchdown last season either, their streak now at 19-straight games without letting someone cross the goal line on the ground.

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Northwest Missouri State moves to 5-1, knocking the Gorillas to 5-1 as well. The two teams are tied atop the MIAA with the Bearcats having the upper hand with the victory.

Hornets buzzing

It took nearly every minute of play, but Emporia State rallied for the go-ahead touchdown with just 51 seconds left to defeat Fort Hays State 28-24.

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Quarterback Braxton Marstall led a 21-point fourth quarter as the Hornets and Tigers exchanged scores late in the fourth quarter in an exciting finale. Fort Hays State took the late 24-21 lead on a D.J. Hickman touchdown with 5:31 left. Marstall led Emporia State right back, connecting with Jordan Reed for the duos second touchdown connection of the day with just 51 ticks left on the clock.

Marstall finished with 289 yards passing and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Tyler Harris led the day with 140 yards and two touchdowns. The win evens the Hornets record at 3-3, while Fort Hays State picks up its second loss of the season. 

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