The Northeastern State football team dropped a 30-20 decision to Emporia State University Saturday night at Doc Wadley Stadium.
The RiverHawks (0-4, 0-4 MIAA) held the Hornets (4-0, 4-0) to their lowest point total of the season, but they weren't able to overcome a slow start to the contest.
ESU outgained the home team 452-348, and NSU won the turnover battle 2-1.
Senior wide receiver Jermaine Sherman had a career-high nine receptions for 63 yards and a TD in his fourth-consecutive game.
Sophomore quarterback Johnny Deaton was 20-of-46 passing for 201 yards and the strike to Sherman. The 46 pass attempts were the most in a single game by any NSU quarterback since the RiverHawks became a Division II affiliate.
Sophomore running back Joel Rockmore led the ground attack with 77 yards and a touchdown for the second-straight week. He also added a 52-yard kick return.
Tyler Eckenrode led Emporia State's offense with a 19-of-27 performance for 229 yards and a passing touchdown. Ray Ray Davis caught six passes for 97 yards, and Derwin Hall and Dozie Iwuagwa combined for 165 yards rushing and three scores.
The Hornets were the only team to score in the first half. They received a field goal from Derek Jonas at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter, and Hall struck pay dirt with 3:44 to play in the half as the road side took a 9-0 lead into intermission.
Junior kicker Drew Patton got NSU on the board with a 24-yard field goal at the 12:59 mark of the third quarter.
Iwuagwa pushed the lead to 16-3 with a TD at 9:51, but Patton nailed a career-long 47-yard field goal 40 seconds later to push the margin to 16-6.
Iwuagwa added his second TD of the quarter with 2:23 to play in the third to give ESU a 23-6 advantage.
Northeastern State began a vigorous comeback attempt in the final frame. Sherman scored on a 17-yard pass from Deaton with 9:50 to play, and Rockmore found the endzone with 5:34 left to bring NSU to within three at 23-20.
NSU's defense couldn't find that one final stop necessary to get the ball back to the offense, however, as Emporia State was able to score an insurance touchdown with 3:49 to play when Eckenrode found Shjuan Richardson from 11 yards out.
Northeastern State will travel to Maryville, Mo., for a 2:30 p.m. meeting Sept. 29 against No. 12 Northwest Missouri State. The game will be televised on the MIAA Network as the Game of the Week.