Brown bashes Baptist in 59-7 rout
John Brown post game interview Michael Bauer| Sports Editor
After a slow start, the Gorillas’ patience and focus under the leadership of wide receiver John Brown paid off.
Big crowd, big score
Playing in front of the third-largest crowd in Carnie Smith Stadium history on Saturday, Sept. 21, during Family Weekend, Pittsburg State rolled over the Southwest Baptist Bearcats, 59-7.
10,788 tickets were sold, though many of the max-capacity crowd departed once it became clear that Southwest Baptist had no hope of success midway through the third quarter.
Brown had five receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns of 57 and 62 yards, respectively. His effort defined a second quarter where the Gorillas exploded with 28 unanswered points.
“We had to get something going. I was just wanting to be the guy to get everything rolling,” Brown said.
The Gorillas improved their record to 3-0 overall while the Bearcats were left still searching for their first win as they moved to 0-3.
SBU not a pushover
Head Coach Tim Beck says he knew that his team could not take the Bearcats lightly as both of SBU’s previous losses were by no more than eight points.
Beck says that his team went into the game with no regard for a history of success over Southwest Baptist, and was prepared for anything.
PSU has never lost to the Bearcats in the 20 matchups that have been played since the first regularly-scheduled game in 1989.
“There was no talk of being 20-0,” Beck said. “But the big talk was the fact that their coach was probably telling them ‘Hey, we’re 0-2 and we’re going to face a 2-0 team. They’re bound to have a let down.’ We just let our guys know that we’re not going to allow that.”
The game did not start off as well as might have been hoped after a slow first quarter, where PSU netted only a field goal off of two attempts.
Tindal a target
The Gorillas were well aware of SBU’s starting quarterback Willie Tindal and his passing ability, linebacker Tyler Disney says.
“We knew he was a good athlete,” he said. “We watched him on film and prepared for him.”
Tindal’s skill has made him one of the leaders in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) conference in passing yards, but the PSU defense contained him for most of the game.
“We have to give our defense credit,” Beck said. “They played lights-out the first three quarters and did a tremendous job. That young man (Tindal) can scramble around and cause issues. Defensively, we got some key turnovers before our offense scored.”
Early mistakes all around
Safety Keeston Terry picked off a pass in SBU’s opening drive but fumbled the ball at PSU’s own 31-yard line; the Bearcats recovered.
The Bearcats would cough up possession with a fumble by Drew Lauderdale soon after. This time, the Gorillas recovered.
“We had a lot of confidence and faith in our offense,” said strong safety Jason Peete. “We knew they were just having a hard time a little bit but we just went out and kept doing what we needed to do.”
Quarterback Anthony Abenoja and his offense could not get much going after getting the ball deep into Bearcat territory before turning the ball over on downs.
Running back Jeff Seybold Jr. would record 104 yards rushing off of 16 carries to lead the Gorilla rushing attack.
“We faced a lot of adversity at the start of the game but I felt like we handled it pretty well,” Seybold said.
After getting the ball back into Bearcat territory, the Gorillas converted on third down with a pass to wide receiver Gavin Lutman with 2:47 left in the first.
But frustration returned as a high snap went over Abenoja’s head. The quarterback managed to recover but only after scooping it up at the 45.
The drive would not be in vain as kicker Conner Frazell made a 45-yard field goal to put Pitt State in front while the Gorilla defense continued to keep the Bearcats in check.
Defense enabled fireworks
“On defense, we’ve got to compliment the offense,” Disney said. “They put three points up on the board, we’re expected to put up zero. We just go out there and do what we need to.”
It turned out, Frazell’s kick was just the beginning.
Defensive lineman Will Grissom forced Tindal to fumble on SBU’s next drive. Disney recovered the ball.
“The defense did a great job,” Seybold said. “The offense, we just got a few penalties and didn’t execute as we should have. After we got that big play going it started rolling from there.”
The Gorillas got going with Abenoja finding Brown on a 57-yard touchdown pass.
“That first touchdown was one of those things where we’re throwing a little out route and he makes a guy miss and next thing you know he’s gone down the sideline,” Beck said. “That was huge to get us to 10-0.”
Tindal was sacked twice on the next possession and found himself facing fourth and 26 from SBU’s own 27.
A Seybold run of 15 yards to the Bearcats’ 37-yard-line led to a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Conner Combes on a five-play drive that covered 64 yards.
Then, Abenoja did it again with another touchdown pass to Brown, this time for 62 yards.
“The other catch down the sideline right before halftime was also huge and that’s why he played until halftime and the end of the game,” Beck said.
Because of Brown’s size, he said he had to move further to the side.
“I went to the outside because I’m a small receiver,” Brown said. “The second one, the cornerback and the safety had good coverage and Tony (Abenoja) just made the right throw to me. He believed in me.”
Big game for Brown
Brown’s teammates had nothing but praise for him.
“Man, you can’t stop that kid. There’s no way you’re stopping him,” Peete said. “He’s just one of those guys who’s going to give a lot and he’s got a lot to give.”
Disney says he was glad Brown was on his side.
“He’s wild. He’s always doing something new,” Disney said. “I’m just blessed that he’s on our team and we don’t have to defend him.”
Seybold said as soon as Brown got going, so did the rest of the offense.
“Once we got JB (John Brown) going, I felt like it stretched the defense out,” Seybold said.
The Gorillas didn’t take long to find the end zone after coming out of the locker room for the second half. Brown took the kickoff to start the third quarter with a 95-yard touchdown run.
Seybold would add two more touchdown runs of two and one yards respectively in the third before a three-yard run by running back Dre Holman gave the Gorillas a 59-0 lead.
The Bearcats got to the Gorilla 16 on the first play of the fourth quarter with Tindal connecting to wide receiver Nathan Mourik for a 48-yard pass.
But, a fumble by the Bearcats on third and eight gave the possession back to Pitt State and the Gorilla defense looked set to record their first shutout since 2007.
Those hopes were dashed when Tindal connected to Lauderdale for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 7:33 left in the game.
It would only serve as a consolation prize as the Gorillas went on to secure their undefeated record.