Gorillas pass Division I midterm for Homecoming Despite late-game effort, Abilene Christian falls to Pitt State
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
Jeff Seybold Jr. has proven to be the perfect tool for Pittsburg State’s running game this season.
Saturday’s victory over a NCAA Division I Football Champion Subdivision team, the Abilene Christian Wildcats, was just one example.
10,981 fans packed Carnie Smith Stadium for the third-largest home crowd in Pitt State history.
Seybold the leader
Seybold scored all of Pitt State’s touchdowns in the Gorillas’ win over the Wildcats, 28-20.
The Gorillas’ defense ultimately contained ACU’s high-scoring offense, though Abiline Christian has had some difficulty lately as they have lost their past two games.
Still, the game served as a noted achievement as Pittsburg State was victorious over the first Division I team they’ve played in more than 15 years.
“Defensively, I thought the first half was awesome,” Seybold, the Gorillas’ go-to running back, said. “We did give them one [touchdown], but other than that, we gave up the drive at the end of the half. To hold them down to one touchdown in the first half is really good.”
Seybold had 24 rushes for 115 yards.
“He was really big for us. We kind of jumped on his shoulders in that first half and he made some nice runs and was physical,” said Tim Beck, head coach. “He can be elusive at times so I’m really happy. He’s getting confidence as he goes on.”
Mutual errors, first deficit
After taking the opening kickoff to their own 45, the Wildcats were pushed back by an illegal procedure penalty and a fumbled snap that brought up fourth and 36 on their own 19.
Quarterback Anthony Abenoja spotted a wide-open wide receiver Austin Daniels near the Wildcat 20 but the ball went through Daniels’ hands.
Things quickly turned south for the Gorillas. Facing third down and two on their own 32, Abenoja’s pass was picked off by Abilene cornerback Tyler Chapa and returned back for a touchdown.
That put the Wildcats in front with 8:32 on the clock in the first quarter.
“Defensively, we had a great game. They won it today. It was a good true test,” Seybold said.
Beck said that he’s not overly concerned about the pick-six that served as Abenoja’s lone significant error of the game.
“He got caught in one of those deals. We’ve thrown a bunch of short routes and they took a chance on one and picked it,” Beck said. “But (Abenoja) still had a good game and battled hard for us.”
Momentum from there
Tyler Disney managed to recover the Wildcats’ onside kick after the pick-six and the Gorillas brought the ball down the field.
Seybold took the ball on carries of 12 and seven yards, respectively before rushing to the right side to score a three-yard touchdown.
Connor Frazell’s extra-point tied the game with 3:51 in the first.
“It was big. That pick six was my fault,” Abenoja said. “It was big to comeback from that.”
The Wildcats weren’t afraid of surprising the Gorilla defense.
Abilene Christian attempted a flea flicker that proved unsuccessful after the ball hit the ground.
Later in the first quarter, while facing fourth and 10 at the Gorilla 35 yard line, the Wildcats looked set to go for it.
Instead they squib-kicked the ball and that pinned the Gorillas deep on their own side of the field.
The Gorillas needed only one yard to get the first down on Abilene’s eight-yard line.
Technical mistakes noted
Seybold managed to convert with a two-yard carry but an illegal block called on Scott Lester brought the Gorillas back 15-yards.
Abenoja connected with wide receiver Gavin Lutman in the back of the end zone for what looked to be a touchdown.
However, Lutman was out of bounds and Pitt State settled for a 28-yard field goal by Frazell for their first lead of the day.
Abenjoa went 14 for 25 for a total of 196 yards and one interception.
With the Wildcats pinned outside of their own goal after fumbling the ball and recovering for a two-yard loss, linebacker Tyler Disney sacked Abilene quarterback John David-Baker in the end zone.
However, the safety was not awarded to the Gorillas as the officials blew the ball dead at the goal line.
Pitt State was given good field position to work with after a return by Brown was taken to the 19 in Wildcat territory. However, a personal foul penalty backed the Gorillas to the 34.
Beck had said his players were lucky to avoid some personal foul penalties so far this year, but they still generated three such penalties in the first half.
The Gorillas out-rushed the Wildcats in the first half, with 19 rushes for 114 yards while ACU had 15 for only 13 yards.
The Wildcats would end up with 24 rushes for 68 yards while the Gorillas would have 42 for 185 yards. Charcandrick West was the leading rusher for Abilene Christian with six carries for 33 yards.
Frazell started the second half with a 29-yard field goal to make it a six-point game.
However, both special teams units had a tough game.
Frazell had two kick-offs go out of bounds with the second one happening after the Gorillas extended their lead to six.
Later in the third quarter, with the Gorillas near their own 40, Griffon Knopp’s punt off a bad snap would barely make it past mid field.
Abilene Christian had two muffed kicks on punt returns.
“Our special teams have been solid for the most part; we did have a few mishaps today,” Beck said. “But we’ve got good team immunity and they pick each other up.”
A 62-yard pass to Daniels in the ACU red zone led to Seybold’s third touchdown of the night with a three-yard run.
After Abenoja’s draw play on the two-point conversion, the Gorillas were ahead 28-14.
Abilene attempted rally
David-Baker’s 49-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel, who was under coverage by two Pitt State defenders, helped put the Wildcats in scoring position.
Three plays later, DeVante Bausby picked off David-Baker for the quarterback’s first interception of the game.
A Brown touchdown pass of 57-yards was removed from the scoreboard after holding was called on Pitt State.
The Wildcats tried to get something going with time running out but PSU contained Abilene Christian.
Abilene Christian put up 260 passing yards. David-Baker went 25 of 42 for 260 yards. His favorite target was Gabriel who finished with 10 receptions for 117 yards.
Disney directed David-Baker to the ground for an 11-yard sack with 8:17 remaining. Consecutive penalties for illegal procedure and holding, respectively, against the Wildcats backed them up to midfield.
The Wildcats converted on two fourth down plays in a drive that took 9:01 off the game clock and lasted for 18 plays in 80 yards.
David-Baker’s pass to Gabriel in the end zone fell incomplete and the Wildcats slowly worked their way into the red zone with consecutive runs by David-Baker and Darrell Cantu-Harkless.
The two hooked up on a seven-yard touchdown pass with 2:31 left in the game. But, the Wildcats fumbled the snap on the extra-point attempt and Jason Peete recovered for PSU.
Dreiling recovered Abilene Christian’s attempt at an onside kick.
However, Abenoja’s pass to Brown fell incomplete with 1:31 left on third down. Knopp’s deep punt was, just barely, downed at the ACU one-yard line.
Bausby broke up a David-Baker pass intended for Gabriel on the Wildcats’ final drive.