Emporia State football off to fast start

09/12/2012 7:20 AM

09/12/2012 7:20 AM

Emporia State quarterback Tyler Eckenrode isn’t trying to put too much on the Hornets’ 2-0 start.

The 6-foot, 195-pound senior would much rather keep the discussion on Saturday’s home game against Central Oklahoma, or on the play of Emporia State wide receiver Sh’Juan Richardson.

“All we can control is the next game, against Central Oklahoma,” Eckenrode said. “We’ve got a lot of juniors and seniors that are ready to take us in the right direction. I understand we went 5-6 last season and that’s what people think of us right now.”

It’s a perception that is quickly changing, thanks to back-to-back wins over Fort Hays State in the season opener and Saturday’s 58-35 road win over MIAA newcomer Nebraska-Kearney.

Eckenrode leads the MIAA with 781 passing yards and six touchdowns. He threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 51 yards in the win over Kearney. Richardson was his favorite target with 15 catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns.

Eckenrode threw for 2,580 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011.

“Kearney was a playoff team last year, so that’s a good win for us, especially on the road,” Eckenrode said. “And when you have a guy like Sh’Juan, who goes off with three touchdowns, that makes my job a lot easier … he was just on fire. A lot of the success that I had was because of how he was playing and how the offensive line was blocking.”

Central Oklahoma is off to an 0-2 start, and if the Hornets can survive this weekend’s test they will be staring down a month’s worth of winnable games – Lincoln, Southwest Baptist, Lindenwood and Truman.

“The support we’ve had so far has been amazing, from the students to the faculty all the way up to the school’s president,” Eckenrode said. “But we’ve got to focus on the next game, nothing else.”

Up for grabs – The first weekend of KCAC play provided a lot more questions than answers – both of the league’s ranked teams suffered upsets, with Kansas Wesleyan defeating No. 11 Ottawa 31-28 and McPherson defeated No. 24 Bethany 14-0.

Where’s the defense? – Hutchinson Community College’s defense has given up points and yardage at an alarming rate the last two weeks in a 54-34 loss to Navarro and a wild, 63-49 win at Garden City on Saturday.

The Blue Dragons gave up 617 yards against Navarro and 549 yards against Garden City — only offset by the Blue Dragons hanging a school-record 716 yards of offense on the Broncbusters.

Headed into Saturday’s home game against Dodge City, Hutchinson is last in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring defense (43.0 points per game), pass defense (271.7 yards) and next-to-last in total defense (483.7 yards).

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