HAYS, Kan. — Fort Hays State Football will play its first home game of the 2019 season on Thursday night when it takes on Missouri Western. Kickoff is set for 7 pm at Lewis Field Stadium. The No. 25/22 ranked Tigers seek their first win of the season after falling in the season opener at Central Missouri last week.
The Tigers look to avenge a loss to the Griffons last year. Missouri Western defeated FHSU by a score of 23-13 in St. Joseph when FHSU was No. 5 in the AFCA Top 25 Poll. Prior to that, FHSU had won two in a row against the Griffons. This will be the first meeting between the teams in Hays since the 2016 season, when the Tigers won 35-27. FHSU won the 2017 installment of the series, winning 38-10 in St. Joseph. This is the third straight meeting between the teams in which the Tigers have held a top-25 national ranking.
Fort Hays State has been tough at home the last two seasons, going 12-0 in MIAA play during that span at Lewis Field Stadium. The only blemish at home since the beginning of the 2017 season was a playoff loss to Ferris State (Mich.). FHSU has claimed its last four home openers.
Fort Hays State held a 30-21 fourth-quarter lead over Central Missouri in the season opener, but UCM rallied for a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game to upend the then No. 11/8 ranked Tigers. Chance Fuller threw for a career-high 333 yards in the game, while Harley Hazlett (184), Charles Tigner (120), and Layne Bieberle (104) all produced over 100 all-purpose yards in the game.
The Tigers held the Mules to 34 total yards in the first quarter, but the Mule offense found its footing after halftime. The Mules produced 329 of their 516 yards in the game in the second half. The 516 yards allowed was well above the average of 326.1 the Tigers surrendered per game in 2018. However, it was the second straight year the Tigers surrendered more than 500 to the Mules.
The Tiger defense will look to bounce back after its second-half struggles last week. Tanner Hoekman and Drew Harvey tied for a team-high eight tackles each last week. FHSU held Missouri Western to 302 total yards last year despite the loss.