By: Brett Howery
With Missouri Western’s offense putting up 43 or more points in the last four games, it was its defense that shined in this 28-0 win over Emporia State.
Linebacker Anthony Williams led the defense with 15 tackles, a tackle for a loss and a sack. Terrance Marsh and Arnold Crayton both also got sacks while Tylen Wallace got a forced fumble and Drew Sachen got an interception in the closing moments of the game to seal it.
Wyatt Steigerwalds hit Cam Grandy on a 35 flea flicker to open scoring with the Griffons up 7-0 in the first quarter. Next, it was a one-yard touchdown run in the beginning of the second quarter by Deron Thompson, giving the Griffons a 14-0 lead.
Right before halftime, Steigerwald tossed up a ball to tight end Luke Vang, and the three-yard touchdown pass was completed, resulting in a score of 21-0 in favor of the Griffons.
The second half went back and forth, defensively. There was no scoring until three minutes left in the fourth quarter when Steigerwald placed a floating pass into the back of the end zone for Cooper Burton, giving the Griffons a larger 28-0 lead.
Burton led the team with three catches for 48 yards and also recovered a muffed punt that set up the drive when he caught a 14-yard touchdown catch.
Williams was proud of the way the defense played in this game.
“We really showed how good we are,” Williams said. “It was tough, but a lot of props to the offense as well.”
Steigerwald threw 30 passes with 19 completions, 214 yards and three touchdowns. Steigerwald threw three more touchdowns without an interception to give him 23 TDs to just three picks and none since week four at Northeastern State, a string of 107 attempts without an interception.
Markel Smith and Shamar Griffith both had 14 carries, but the ground game really never got started.
With the offense playing well, head coach Matt Williamson couldn’t have asked more from his defense.
“Those guys played their hearts out — they deserved this win,” Williamson said. “The game kinda swung in our favor, and we never let go.”
The Griffon offense was limited to 350 yards of offense, its lowest total since 349 in week one against Northwest Missouri.
As the Griffons have all season, the scoring was spread around. All four touchdowns came from different Griffons with one on the ground from Thompsom, and three through the air thanks to Grandy, Vang and Burton.
With this win the team has moved up to 6-2 and they’re now 2-2 inside Spratt. The 6-2 start and five-straight wins are the most for the program since opening the 2013 season 7-0.
With Fort Hays State’s win over Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday, and Pittsburg State’s loss to Central Missouri, the Griffons ended the day tied for third in the MIAA standings with Fort Hays State.
Next Saturday, the Griffons travel to Kansas to face the Pittsburg State Gorillas who are currently 5-3.