Fort Hays State Football returns to action on Saturday at home against in-state rival Emporia State for the annual Homecoming game.
The Tigers enter the game winners of three straight, now 3-2 on the season, while the Hornets enter at 2-3. Kickoff is set for 7 pm at Lewis Field Stadium in Hays.
The home team has been very successful in this series since FHSU joined the MIAA in 2006. The teams have played 13 times since with the home team going 11-2 in that stretch. Fort Hays State has won the last two games against Emporia State in Hays, but ESU claimed last year’s meeting in Emporia by a score of 28-24. The home team has won the last four games in the series.
Fort Hays State is coming off a 35-7 win over Central Oklahoma last week in Edmond. The Tigers have now held their last two opponents to seven points or less after surrendering 28 or more to their first three. The Tigers are allowing 22.0 points per game, but that is good enough for second among MIAA teams (Pittsburg State leads the conference at 17.8 per game.
Emporia State is coming off a 34-23 loss to Northwest Missouri State last week in Emporia. The Hornets had a 17-12 lead at halftime in that game before being outscored 22-6 in the second half. The Hornets’ two wins this year were against Northeastern State and Lincoln, while their other losses were to Pittsburg State and Nebraska-Kearney.
Fort Hays State enters the game ranked eighth nationally in passing yards per game at 312.8. Quarterback Chance Fuller ranks seventh for individual average, throwing for 300.4 per game. He has thrown over 300 yards in three of five contests this year, including an output of 310 last week at Central Oklahoma. In that game, he tied the school record for passing touchdowns with five. Fuller ranks third nationally in passing touchdowns (17).
Harley Hazlett has been the top target for Fuller in the passing game, currently with 34 receptions for 497 yards. He ranks third in NCAA Division II for receiving touchdowns (8) and 15th in receiving yards per game (99.4). Both Charles Tigner and D.J. Hickman are averaging more than 70 rushing yards per game. Tigner has been key in the receiving game as well, averaging 112 all-purpose yards per game. Hickman is coming off a career-high 121 rushing yards at Central Oklahoma last week.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jordan Starks leads the Tigers in tackles with 40 after a career-high 11 at Central Oklahoma last week. Tanner Hoekman is right behind him with 39 for the season. Both have two interceptions. Linebackers Drew Harvey and Kolt Trachsel each have more than 30 tackles as well. The Tiger defense held UCO to 238 total yards last week, a new season low by a Tiger opponent.