Storm cap season with Live United Bowl victory

Herald Democrat

TEXARKANA, Ark. — Daulton Hatley threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns while Trey Keatts kicked a 29-yard field goal in the closing seconds as Southeastern Oklahoma State won the Live United Bowl, 37-34, against Emporia State at Razorback Stadium.

The win gave the Savage Storm a 9-3 record and one of the best turnarounds in Division II history after Southeastern went 1-10 in 2019 since the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

It ties the fourth-best improvement by a D-II team at seven and a half games from one season to the next.

Southeastern matched its highest win total since moving to the Division II ranks and tied for the third-most in school history, joining the 1921 and 1946 seasons behind only 10-win campaigns in 1923 and 1988.

Hatley was named the Most Valuable Player after completing 23-of-38 passers. His favorite target was Braxton Kincade, who hauled in seven catches for 111 yards.

Katrell Blakely added five grabs for 39 yards and a touchdown, while Marquis Gray totaled four catches for 84 yards, including a 60-yard TD to open the second half. Duce Pittman had a pair of catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Keatts made all three of his field goal attempts, including from 28 and 35 yards to go with the game-winner.

Ryan Taylor led the way with 93 yards on seven carries, including a 51-yard touchdown run, while C.J. Shavers had 16 carries for 85 yards as the Storm tallied 190 yards on the ground and ended with 526 total yards.

Ja'Lon Freeman led the way with 11 tackles, Keelan Chilton had eight tackles with a pair of pass breakups, Scooter Baker finished with six stops and a fumble recovery and Josh Mulumba had four tackles and a forced fumble.

Keatts connected on a 35-yard field goal with 8:19 to play to give Southeastern a 34-27 lead but that lead did not last long as five plays later Canaan Brooks had a rushing TD to tie the game at 34 with 6:38 left.

The teams traded punts and Southeastern survived a scare as Tainique Taylor muffed a punt but recovered at the Storm 12-yard line with 2:24 remaining.

Southeastern converted a third down with a 42-yard hookup from Hatley to Kincade to cross midfield and also convert on fourth-and-three at the Emporia State 35-yard line when Hatley hit Blakely for a five-yard pass.

Southeastern made it all the way to the Hornet 12 before Keatts hit the 29-yard game winner with six seconds left.

Emporia State (6-6) missed a field goal on its opening but took a 7-0 lead on its second possession when Braden Gleason hit Corey Thomas on a 27-yard pass with the only scoring in the first quarter.

Southeastern answered three plays into the second quarter when Hatley hit Pittman for a 33-yard score to cap an eight-play, 80-yard drive.

The Hornets fired right back and went 70 yards in four plays to regain the lead at 14-7 on Gleason’s 31-yard strike to Tommy Zimmerman with 12 minutes to play in the first half.

The Storm marched 78 yards in nine plays, including a fourth-down conversion from Hatley to Pablo Perini, before Hatley connected with Blakely for an eight-yard TD toss to tie the game at 14 with 7:17 left in the second quarter.

But Gleason gave Emporia State a 21-14 lead at half-time with a five-yard touchdown toss to Tyler Kahmann at the 2:22 mark of the half.

Gray’s 60-yard TD catch on the first play of the second half pulled Southeastern even at 21.

But Emporia State responded with a six-play, 68-yard drive capped by Calvin Boyce’s one-yard run but the PAT attempt failed, leaving the lead at 27-21.

Taylor’s 51-yar touchdown gave the Storm their first lead at 28-27 with 9:16 to play in the third.

Keatts hit a 28-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the third quarter to extend the lead to four points.

Southeastern forced the game’s only turnover at the start of the fourth quarter when Mulumba forced a fumble that Baker returned 24 yards to the Emporia State two-yard line.

But the Storm turned the ball over at the one as the Hornets made a goal line stand.

Southeastern forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession to set up Keatts’ 35-yard field goal with 8:19 remaining.