PSU rolls over fourth-ranked MWSU 34-14
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pittsburg State Gorillas know how to control the tide of a crucial game. This isn’t the first time they’ve done that with a blocked field goal that turned into a touchdown.
In the 2011 national championship, the Gorillas blocked an early field goal while trailing by one and returned it for a touchdown to take the lead and not look back.
Against Missouri Western on Saturday, Oct. 26, in St. Joseph, Mo., they did it again.
With Pitt State ahead, 13-7, early in the third quarter the Griffons attempted to close the gap with a 52-yard field goal attempt.
The Gorillas blocked the kick and junior strong safety Jason Peete scooped up the lose ball for a 56-yard touchdown.
Pitt State capitalized off the play by controlling the second half, cruising to a win, 34-14, over the undefeated Missouri Western Griffons.
“That was an extremely big play,” said head coach Tim Beck. “They still had plenty of time but that was a big play.”
No repeat of last week
Coming off a heart-breaking loss, 24-15, in last week’s Fall Classic to Northwest Missouri State, Pitt State made sure there was no hangover and no repeat of last year’s 63-14 humiliation by the Griffons.
“I thought it was a good day. After the loss last week, we were deflated but our kids did a good job coming back,” Beck said. “This was a crucial win.”
With the victory, Pitt State ended Missouri Western’s 11-game Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) winning streak. That streak started last year with the Griffons win over Pitt State.
Junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja went 13 of 25 for 191 yards passing while MWSU quarterback Travis Partridge went 16 of 32 for 193 yards. He threw one interception.
Junior wide receiver Gavin Lutman had three catches for 88 yards.
Sophomore running back Jeff Seybold Jr. carried the ball 24 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our offense did great. Our o-line helped us establish the run game,” Seybold said. “It was great to get our offense rolling and let everyone know we’re back.”
Last week, the Gorillas allowed five sacks and two safeties in a game where they only rushed for 27 yards. This week, PSU allowed no sacks and rushed for 191 yards.
“We were able to get something established,” Beck said. “It was a nice job by our offensive line.”
The Gorillas got on the board first with a 41-yard field goal by senior Connor Frazell.
With 11:27 left in the second quarter, Seybold found the end zone on a 23-yard run.
The Griffons climbed back into the game with a 67 yard pass from Partridge to Reggie Jordan to come within three.
Right before the half, PSU put together a 15-play, 69-yard drive that ended with Frazell kicking a 22-yard field goal to put the Gorillas up 13-7 at the half.
The Gorillas had the ball within the Missouri Western five and almost decided to go for it on fourth down but elected to send the special teams unit out instead.
“I hated to kick a field goal but we needed to get points,” Beck said. “It was still a good drive to end the half. It was tempting to get the touchdown.”
PSU defense contains Partridge
After Peete’s touchdown in the third quarter, the Gorilla defense did not allow Missouri Western’s prolific offense to get anything going and held them to their lowest point-total of the season.
Running back Raphael Spencer entered the game as the leading rusher in the MIAA but was held to 101 yards off of 16 carries. PSU directed Partridge to the ground with four sacks for a loss of 25 yards.
“Outstanding job by our defense,” Beck said. “To hold them to as many points as they have scored in the first half was big.”
PSU marched down the field for 71-yards in eight plays to score on a Seybold run of three-yards to extend the lead to 27-7.
It’s not over until the fat lady sings
But it wasn’t quite over as Jordan caught a 14-yard touchdown pass to close the deficit to 27-14 with 9 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.
However, PSU only needed three plays in 75-yards to answer back on a scoring drive with Seybold rushing in on a six-yard carry. PSU almost turned the ball over after Seybold ran the ball for 51 yards before red shirt freshman Kyle Swartz fell on the loose ball.
“That was a huge play,” Beck said. “Kyle did a good job of getting the fumble.”
Junior corner back De’Vante Bausby sacked Partridge on fourth down and five, forcing a turnover and later, junior corner back Aries Herrion made an interception to end the Griffons’ hopes for a comeback.
The Gorillas improved to 7-1 for the season and 6-1 in the MIAA while the Griffons are now 7-1 and 6-1 in conference play.
Finally, a home game
Next week, the Gorillas will return to Carnie Smith Stadium for the first time in a month against non-conference opponent Northwestern Oklahoma State for a 2 p.m. kick-off.
“It’ll be really nice to be back home. We’ve been grinding it out really hard these last few weeks,” Beck said. “We’re 3-1 against four really good teams.”