The NCAA Division II college football playoffs are underway and there were four upsets in the first round, though none was bigger than seventh-seeded Emporia State upending second-seed Minnesota State-Mankato in Super Region Three.
No. 18-ranked Emporia State earned its first ever playoff victory when sophomore kicker Aaron Morton booted a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the Hornets (10-2) a thrilling 51-49 victory over the No. 6 Mavericks (10-2) according to the Kansas City Star.
Trailing 28-10 with 6:09 left in the first half, quarterback Brent Wilson hooked up with Kavaski Ervin for 43 and 48 yard touchdown passes to bring the Hornets to within four at the half. Emporia State then scored the first 21 points of the third quarter to take a 45-28 lead.
Down 49-48 with 8:27 remaining in the game, the Hornets looked poised to retake the lead as they drove to the Maverick eight yard line but Wilson was intercepted in the end zone by Rob Myers at the 4:26 mark. However, defensive back JP Lohrentz saved the day for the Hornets by picking off his third pass of the game with 2:35 left.
On the final drive of the game, Wilson hit three straight passes to get the Hornets down to the 20-yard line and then scrambled for seven yards to move the ball to the 13-yard line before taking a sack. After Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock with four seconds left, Morton walked onto the field to attempt the game winner.
Wilson was 27 of 47 for 437 yards and five touchdown though he was intercepted three times. With his performance, Wilson broke the Emporia State single season total offense and passing yards and career passing yards records. He now has 3,857 passing yards and 4,172 yard of total offense this season. He has 8,234 yards passing in his career.
— HERO Sports (@HeroSportsNews) November 23, 2015
Six different receivers caught a pass from Wilson, including three that recorded 100-yard games — Morris Williams II, Mitchell Foote and Ervin. According to the Emporia State Athletics Department, it marked the first time in school history, three players had over 100 yards receiving in a game.
The Mankato Free Press reports that the Hornets are in the D-II playoffs for the second time in three years and third time overall. The Mavericks, who played in the national championship game last year, fell to 7-9 all-time in the playoffs.
Emporia State will meet third seed and No. 8 Henderson State (11-1) in the second round. The Reddies defeated sixth-seeded Sioux Falls 23-16 on Saturday for their first ever NCAA playoff victory as they picked off Harlon Hill Candidate quarterback Luke Papilion three times including one on USF’s final drive to secure the victory. The game was Sioux Falls (9-3) first D-II playoff game in school history per KSYF.com.
— HERO Sports (@HeroSportsNews) November 22, 2015
In the other Super Three Region game, fourth-seed Humbold State (10-1) defeated fifth-seed Augustana (11-1) 45-31. Humbold State is in the playoffs for the first time since 1968 and will travel to top-ranked Northwest Missouri State (11-0) for a second round matchup.
In other D-II playoff games, Super Region One fifth-seed IUP (9-2) scored 41 of their 47 points in the second half of its 47-21 victory over Charleston 10-2. The victory is IUP’s most lopsided playoff victory in 24-years per the Indiana Gazette.
— Emporia State (@emporiastate) November 23, 2015
In Super Region Two, fourth-seeded Valdosta State put 61 points on the board but still had to hold on for dear life as fifth-seeded Carson Newman (8-3) put up 59. Valdosta State (8-2) travels to top-seeded West Georgia (10-1) for a second round match. No. 2 North Alabama (9-2) thrashed No. 7 Newberry (7-4) while No. 6 Tuskegee (9-2) topped No. Catawba (8-3).
In Super Region Four, defending national champions Colorado State-Pueblo (11-1) defeated fifth-seeded Indianapolis (10-1). CSU-Pueblo, the region’s fourth seed, plays at top-seeded Midwestern State in the second round. No. 6 Grand Valley State (10-2) is the team that pulled the region’s upset, defeating No. 3 Ashland (10-1) while No. 2 Ferris State (11-0) cruised to a 48-30 victory over Texas A&M Commerce (8-3).
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