Gorillas enjoy record-setting day
Michael Bauer | Sports Editor
Quarterback Anthony Abenoja and wide receiver John Brown both enjoyed record setting days in Jefferson City, Mo. in the Pitt State Gorillas’ win, 59-38, over the Lincoln Blue Tigers.
Abenoja, Brown ‘phenomenal’
Abenoja passed for a school record 442 yards and five touchdowns-four of them to Brown- while Brown became PSU’s all-time leading receiver with 2,722 career receiving yards.
“In the locker room afterwards, I told our guys that there were a lot of players that we need to talk about,” head coach Tim Beck said in an interview with Eddie Lomshek of KKOW. “I thought our offensive linemen did a nice job. John’s day was phenomenal.”
Brown caught nine passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns. He tied the school record with 27 career receiving touchdowns.
“We kept saying that there’s going to be one of these days where he had eight or nine catches for 200 yards and that happened today,” Beck said. “He can do so many things when he gets released well but the bottom line is that he can run well. He’s so elusive.”
Room for humility
Brown attributed his performance to his teammates, especially his offensive line.
“It means a lot to me. It feels really good but there were guys on my team that helped me,” Brown said. “There was good blocking by the offensive line and good throws by the quarterback.”
Beck was proud of Abenoja’s performance but added that it wasn’t perfect.
“Almost flawless but not quite,” Beck said. “He’s done a nice job of taking care of the ball but we had two or three turnovers that could’ve extended some drives.”
Abenoja’s first interception of the season occurred when he tried to hook up with wide receiver Gavin Lutman in the second quarter.
“He had a couple of misreads and the interception at the end of the first half, he just got greedy and he should’ve dumped it,” Beck said.
Jeff City shootout
Still, it was an offensive firework show for both teams as the game featured 1,295 combined yards of total offense.
The Gorillas took care of business in the first half by cruising to a lead, 21-0, with Brown scoring off of passes of nine and 29 yards, respectively and a one-yard touchdown run by running back Jeff Seybold Jr.
Lincoln, however, showed how dangerous their offense was with quarterback Jacob Morris connecting with wide receiver Khirey Draine for 55-yards.
Andrew Fishel kicked a 28-yard field goal to narrow the gap to 21-10 in the second quarter. Another Brown-Abenoja touchdown connection of 29 yards made it 28-10 at the half.
Morris went 15 of 19 for 266 yards and one interception. Henderson had 157 yards rushing off of 14 carries.
In the second half, it seemed like Pittsburg State would score every time the offense touched the ball. But the same was also true for the Blue Tigers.
Upset threat averted
A touchdown run of 61-yards by running back Morris Henderson made the score 35-17 and after a PSU touchdown, the Blue Tigers responded with another Henderson run for six points.
Connor Frazzel kicked a 22-yard field goal with 2:56 left in the third, giving the Gorillas a 21-point advantage.
But an early fourth quarter touchdown by Khirey was enough to keep the Blue Tigers in a more favorable position from behind.
“In the second half, we were three scores ahead and we didn’t feel comfortable yet. It was a quick first half and a really slow third quarter,” Beck said. “We doubled up on them but that was because they were scoring so fast. We’ve got a few things to work on and fix.”
What was left of Lincoln’s last second comeback attempt evaporated with a Seybold 56-yard touchdown run with 13:36 left.
Seybold also steps up
Brown and Abenoja were not the only ones enjoying career milestone performances, as Seybold would end the game with 18 rushes for a personal best of 181 yards.
“I tell you, I’m proud of Jeff, early in the second quarter, he took a huge shot in the thigh but it was nice to see him come out strong in the second half,” Beck said. “I’m proud of his efforts.”
And so ends an undefeated September for the Gorillas (4-0) who will now face their toughest stretch of the regular season with games starting next week against Division I Abilene Christian for Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 5.
They will follow that up with an away game vs. Central Missouri, the annual Fall Classic against Northwest Missouri State and road trip to defending Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) champions Missouri Western State.