Gorillas score 52-straight; dominate Bearcats
Trent Johnson | Sports Reporter
The Pittsburg State Gorillas kept rolling last Saturday when they traveled to Bolivar, Mo. to take on the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats. They avoided the upset in convincing fashion, scoring 52 straight points in the 52-9 victory.
The Gorillas put together their most complete game of the season against the Bearcats. SBU took an early 7-0 lead after the first possession, but the Gorillas came back and scored 52 unanswered points before giving up a meaningless safety. This week, they come back to Carnie Smith Stadium where they will try to get their record to 4-0 before heading into a bye week.
The Gorillas will face the Lincoln Blue Tigers, who are winless. Lincoln is coming off a tough, 21-14 loss to Missouri Southern. The Gorillas get the benefit of playing the Blue Tigers at home for the second straight year due to the conference expansion. Pittsburg State won last year’s meeting 69-6, and quarterback Anthony Abenoja threw touchdowns of 43 and 54 yards in mop up duty. Abenoja will look to repeat that success.
Through three games, the Gorillas are averaging 42 points per game while giving up 16. Lincoln, however, is scoring only 18 per game and surrendering 37. This will play into the Gorillas favor as long as they control the line of scrimmage. The offensive line has been a key component to the team’s success this season. They have been giving Abenoja plenty of time to throw and opening up lanes for the running game. A good sign for the Gorillas in Bolivar was running back Solomon Watkins, who saw his most extensive action of the season. He had 12 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. Watkins has been trying to get back into game shape after a knee injury sidelined him at the end of last season.
“It was nice to see him get in the end zone and I know he’ll continue to feel better,” said head coach Tim Beck.
Watkins contributions have become more important since running back Jeff Seybold Jr. is out for the season with ankle surgery.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Gorillas have been forcing plenty of turnovers. Through three games, they have forced 10 turnovers. The Blue Tigers have only committed five turnovers in the first three weeks of play, but they have had trouble with fumbles. Lincoln has also had trouble protecting their quarterback, allowing Jacob Morris to be sacked nine times thus far.
One of the deepest spots on the Gorillas’ roster is defensive end. Sophomore defensive end and third down pass rush specialist Avery Adair does his best to add to the depth each game.
“I just try to contribute the best I can. I have Gus Toca and Joe Uzzel, those are good people to learn from and I think we have a lot of depth there. So my role is to pass rush and do whatever I can,” Adair said.
Look for the Gorillas to send a number of different defensive line combinations to pressure Morris. Another aspect limiting the Lincoln offense is their lack of a running threat. They’ve played three games so far and Donald Malone is their leading rusher … with 56 yards. Look for the Pittsburg State defense to have a lot of six and seven man coverage in the secondary with the lack of a Lincoln running attack.
What to watch for on Saturday? Can the Gorillas turn in another good performance for all four quarters? Before the last game, it wasn’t known if the Gorillas could play well for an entire game. After last week’s win, it is clear that this team is capable of playing exceptional football.
“We wanted to put a full game together and we had not done that yet,” said junior linebacker Nate Dreiling. “From the first two games we looked a little rusty, either coming out of halftime, or coming out of the gate, so that was our one objective today. I felt like we did that.”
The Gorillas will try to build off it this weekend. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.