All in the family
Pitt State wins big on Family Day; eyes No. 1 Northwest
Seth Stillings | Collegio Reporter
The No. 15 Pitt State football team scored on its first possession of the game on Saturday, Sept. 24, against William Jewell and never looked back. The Gorillas beat the Cardinals 49-7 in front of a packed Family Day crowd at Carnie Smith Stadium.
The Pittsburg State coaching staff and players were adamant about not overlooking the visiting Cardinals during their week of preparation.
Many outsiders wanted to discuss the more impressive opponent No. 1 Northwest Missouri State, which is scheduled to square off against the Gorillas on Saturday, Oct. 1, in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead Stadium, but the Gorillas had only one thing on their minds, the William Jewell Cardinals.
After the game, senior quarterback Zac Dickey stated the obvious.
“We didn’t want to overlook these guys (William Jewell), and we came out and did what we needed to do,” Dickey said. “There are still some things we can clean up, and still some corrections that need to be made.”
The Cardinals were outmatched in many key positions, and looked like a squad that is still trying to figure things out as they make the transition from NAIA to DII competition.
A look at the two teams’ total offensive yards speaks volumes of how dominating the Gorillas’ effort was.
Pitt State gained 555 yards of total offense, 348 of them on the ground, averaging 8.1 yards a carry. The Cardinals were able to gain only 185 yards of total offense, averaging 2 yards per carry on the night.
The man of the evening for the Gorillas was junior running back Briceton Wilson. Wilson, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, had three total touchdowns, one receiving and two rushing, gaining 125 total yards.
Pitt State played so well, head coach Tim Beck decided to give Dickey a rest on Pittsburg’s last possession of the half and gave backup quarterback Anthony Abenoja a chance to lead the team. More important, he gave Abenoja a shot at running the 2-minute offense.
Although Pitt State failed to score on its final possession of the half, Abenoja looked impressive. Abenoja went 9-16 for 118 yards, a touchdown and one interception after playing multiple possessions in the third and fourth quarter as well.
On the second-half kickoff, William Jewell attempted an onside kick, which Pitt State recovered on the Cardinals’ 37-yard line.
It took only one play for Pitt State to notch its fourth touchdown on the night when Dickey ran the ball 37 yards for the score.
Dickey had another team-leading night on the ground, rushing seven times for 97 yards and two touchdowns. The senior quarterback also threw for 89 yards, a touchdown and one interception.
The Cardinals got on the board with 10:47 left on the clock in the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Sean Shelton punched the ball in from the 1-yard line to make the score 42-7 in favor of the Gorillas.
Pittsburg State’s defensive squad provided another 60 minutes of work.
Chas Smith had another big game for the Gorillas with a team-leading eight tackles, including a sack. Smith also recorded his fourth interception of the year when he snagged a Shelton pass in the third quarter.
Senior defensive end Spencer Worthington had a career night, recording three sacks, for a total loss of 19 yards, and ended up with six total tackles on the night.
Worthington’s performance also earned him MIAA Defensive Co-Player of the Week, an honor he shared with Missouri Southern’s Ryan Phillips.
With the big victory behind them, the Gorillas can finally start concentrating on the big task at hand.
Northwest will come into Arrowhead on Saturday averaging 65 points a game, and outscoring MIAA opponents by a combined 179 points in its three conference games this year.
Wilson knows it’s going to be a tough game but says the team is ready.
“It’s going to be a physical ball game, I’m excited; it’s going to be fun,” Wilson said on Sunday. “Coach Beck does a good job of keeping us humble and thinking of one game at a time. It’s four games down and now one more to go, that’s how we look at it.”
Game time for the Arrowhead game against Northwest is 2 p.m. Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.