- 37-0 run-out
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
John Brown and Nate Dreilling may be gone, but after the way things went on Saturday, Sept. 6, Pitt State fans had trouble telling the difference.
The Gorillas won their first home game of the season against the Northeastern State River Hawks 37-0.
Junior wide receiver Marquise Cushon provided a comfortable look into the post-John Brown era by catching four passes for a game-high 96 yards in the first half and adding three rushes for 26 yards in the second.
“Marquise is a very explosive competitor,” said Tim Beck, head coach. “He’s a great triple jumper for our track and field team. He likes to compete. I’m glad he’s on our football team.”
Senior Tyler Disney had 13 tackles with seven solos.
The Gorilla defense recorded its second shutout in seven years.
“We had a lot of players who really stepped up,” Beck said. “It was a good first win for our football team because in the first game of the year you really don’t know what you’re going to get offensively and defensively.”
Senior quarterback Anthony Abenoja went 18-23 for 230 yards, threw one touchdown and rushed for a second.
The Gorillas held the River Hawks to 48 net rushing yards and 180 total yards in the game.
Senior kicker Connor Frazell booted three field goals, which included a 26-yarder on the opening drive of the game.
“I’m just real happy with everybody’s performance,” Beck said. “And we have to take our hats off to the defense, because it’s hard to get a goose egg on the board in this day and age.”
NSU’s quarterback Kevin Pantastico went 13-28 and threw two interceptions for 132 yards. He was sacked five times.
River Hawk running back Terrance Dixon had 13 carries for 9 yards while Pantastico had 13 rushing yards off of 12 carries.
Junior running back Jeff Seybold had six carries for only 14 yards but scored a touchdown in the first half.
Senior running back Solomon Watkins, who missed all of last year due to an injury, scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:36 left in the third quarter to make the score 34-0. A 36-yard field goal by Frazell completed the fourth quarter with a Gorilla victory.
Pitt State will now turn its attention to Thursday night’s game against the Lindenwood Lions at 7 p.m. in St. Charles, Mo.
The Lions are coming off a 44-38 upset win over the Washburn Ichabods .
Quarterback Dillon Miller of Lindenwood went 24 of 42 for 230 yards and one interception. Wide receiver Tre’ Roby had five catches for 53 yards while Jaron Alexander had six for 64 yards. Running back Lavorrie Johnson had 14 carries for 42 yards to lead the Lions’ rushing attack.
Lindenwood trailed by 17 points in the first quarter before tying the game in a second-quarter scoring burst. Jordan Gater caught a 12-yard pass from Miller with 8:13 left in the game to give the Lions the game-clutching win.
- Former gorilla makes game-winning touchdown
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
Wide receiver John Brown had only two catches for 29 yards in this week’s Monday Night Football game against the San Diego Chargers.
He needed just one catch to make a difference in the game’s outcome.
The former Pittsburg State All-American caught the game-winning touchdown on Monday, Sept. 8, to give the Arizona Cardinals an 18-17 victory over the Chargers.
It was the first game of the NFL regular season and played on prime time on ESPN Monday Night Football.
The game was played at Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
With 2:25 left to play, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer connected with Brown on a 13-yard scoring pass to cap the Cardinals’ comeback victory and go 1-0 to start the season.
“When I first caught the ball, I saw a Charger player coming, and I saw our guy block him,” Brown said in his post-game comments on ESPN.com. “And I saw another Charger dude coming, and I took a step inside and he got blocked, and I ran right in the end zone.”
Brown’s touchdown reception capped an 11-play, 91-yard drive.
“It was a sweet little touchdown,” Palmer said. “That’s what he does. He’s so shifty. It’s like somebody’s controlling him with a joystick. He is so quick and so hard to find on those little quick screens.”
Brown, who graduated from PSU this past year, was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft back in May.
Brown’s only other reception of the night was a 16-yard catch in the first half. The winning touchdown capped an 11-point comeback for the Cardinals in the fourth quarter.
- Cross country hosts annual alumni run
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pittsburg State men’s and women’s cross country teams made their unofficial start to the 2014 season with the annual Alumni Run on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Countryside Golf Course. After another hot week in Pittsburg, temperatures dipped into the 60s for the early morning race, but the cold front did little to dampen spirits.
A mixture of current and previous PSU runners competed. The men’s race was 6 kilometers while the women’s course was 4.
Two former Pitt State runners took the individual titles: Adam Volkert and Jessica Macy.
Volkert won the men’s race in 19 minutes, nine seconds while Jessica Macy finished in 14:33. Both Volkert and Macy were 2013 All-Americans.
Macy has one year of eligibility left for track and field and has exhausted her cross country eligibility.
Though graduates won individually, team-wise it was the current cross country teams that won both races.
“Overall I was very pleased,” said Russ Jewett, head coach. “I take into account our fitness levels and I think both teams did just fine.”
Junior Austin Bogina led the PSU men, finishing third overall with a time of 19:13. He was followed by senior Talon Thompson with a time of 19:24. Junior Connor Stark took fifth place for the men with a time of 19:25.
“I was really pleased with the way (Bogina) raced,” Jewett said. “I told him before the race to be very aggressive for that first mile and to try and put a gap on anyone who tries to beat him and he did that.”
A total of 14 alumni took part in the men’s race.
For the women, second place went to junior Hannah DeVries. She finished the 4 kilometers with a time of 14:48.
“Hannah did outstanding,” Jewett said. “She did what I asked her to do, which was to be very aggressive.”
Freshman Katren Reinbolt took third with a time of 15:20.
“Katren was a good runner in high school and we knew that,” Jewett said. “It’s hard for a freshman to compete at a high level right away but she’s close. It’ll be a different challenge when we move to 5 kilometers and 6 instead of just 4.”
Senior Alex Moase followed Reinbolt with 15:40 while freshman Paige Denton was fifth in 15:45.
- Women split at Rockhurst Invitational
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pittsburg State volleyball team opened its 2014 season by going 2-2 at the Rockhurst Invitational in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday, Sept. 5, and Saturday, Sept. 6.
The invitational did not start off well for the Gorillas, who lost in three sets to the Hawks Friday night. However, the team regained its footing against the Tigers of East Central University, winning in three sets.
“We played pretty well,” said Jenny Mueller, head coach. “I was excited to see our setter-hitter connections. We had some great defense and we had some really good blocks.”
Against the Tigers, the Gorillas won 25-17, 25-11 and 25-13 to start the invitational off with a split.
Sophomore Madi Mosier led the Gorillas with 17 kills and a .640 attack percentage. She had one error in 25 attempts. Junior Haley Hansford recorded 33 of the team’s 40 assists.
On Saturday, Sept. 6, the Gorillas lost the first game of the day 3-2 to the Oilers of Findlay University.
In its first match, PSU lost 22-25. The second and third matches went better with two victories, but in the final two matches the Gorillas witnessed failure again with losses of 17-25 and 15-12.
Pitt State was outblocked by Findlay 13.5 to 7.0.
Mosier recorded her first double-double of the season, leading all players with 20 kills and adding 14 digs. Senior Haylee Gregory, along with Hansford, shared the team’s lead in blocks with three.
Pitt State bounced back against William Jewell by winning in five sets.
Senior Paula Okrutna had 18 kills with three errors in 29 attempts for a .517 attack percentage. Okrutna led the Gorillas with a season-high of six blocks.
Mosier finished the weekend with 4.25 kills per set and a .359 attack percentage. She had double-digit kills in each match of the tournament and had 20 kills a piece against Findlay and William Jewell.
“Mosier started out a little slow for her tempo in the first match against Rockhurst,” Mueller said. “But in the second match against UCO, she lit it up. It was a pretty stellar performance.”
Next up for the Gorillas will be a weekend tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Gorillas will play on Friday, Sept. 12, and finish the next day.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, Pitt State will face Colorado State-Pueblo, which is currently coached by former Gorilla Chrissy Elder.
Colorado State-Pueblo should be a very exciting matchup,” Mueller said. “I’m excited to see the recruiting (Elder) has done there. This will be one of our first competitive fixtures so we’ll be able to put together a little bit more of a detailed strategic planning going in.”
- Women picked second in MIAA polls, men sixth
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pittsburg State women’s cross country team was picked second in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) preseason coaches poll.
The PSU women received one first-place vote and 86 points in polling of the conference’s 11 head coaches.
Last year’s MIAA conference champion, Southwest Baptist, was picked first, receiving just four more points than Pitt State. One point behind Pitt State is Missouri Southern, followed by Nebraska-Kearney.
In fifth place sits Central Missouri with 63 points and in sixth is Northwest Missouri State at 51. Fort Hays State and Central Oklahoma took seventh and eighth with Lindenwood, Lincoln and Emporia State finishing up the list.
PSU has five of its top women runners returning from the 2013 season. Last year the Gorillas took third overall at the MIAA championships. However, this year the team is without its leading runner and national runner-up finalist Jessica Macy, who graduated in May.
The Pittsburg men’s cross country team was picked to finish sixth in the MIAA preseason polls, receiving 31 points. Missouri Southern received eight first-place votes and 64 points to sit on the top of the men’s poll.
Southwest Baptist follows in second with 53 points while defending conference champions Central Missouri take third place with 48 points and one first-place vote.
Nebraska-Kearney was picked fourth, just five points ahead of Northwest Missouri State, which is picked to finish in fifth. Five points behind them is Pittsburg State. The Gorillas are three points ahead of Fort Hays State. Lindenwood is picked in the eighth slot while the Emporia State Hornets are predicted to finish ninth.
The men’s team welcomes back three of its top five runners from last season. They finished sixth at the 2013 MIAA.
Just like the women, the men also lost its leading runner from last year, Adam Volkert.
Volkert won the conference last year and was an All-American finisher at nationals.
The 2014 MIAA Conference Championships is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 8, in Bolivar, Mo. Southwest Baptist will host this year.
The Pittsburg State cross country teams will make their season debuts on Saturday, Sept. 6, when the Gorillas host their annual Alumni Race at Countryside Golf Course.
The women’s 4-kilometer race will start at 8 a.m., and the men’s 6-kilometer race is slated to start at 8:30 a.m.
Both teams will travel to Missouri Southern State’s Stampede Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 20, in Joplin, Mo.
Two weeks later the Gorillas will travel to Topeka for the Kansas University Rim Rock Farm Classic, instead of traveling to St. Paul, Minn., for the annual Roy Griak Invitational as they have traditionally done in the past.
Pittsburg State will also run at the Missouri S&T Jackling Jock Invitational in Rolla, Mo., before the conference championships.
7.Fort Hays State
7.Fort Hays State
- Opener against NSU
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
Northeastern State’s football team has not enjoyed their time in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) conference.
The River Hawks’ last winning season came in 2011. Then NSU joined the MIAA and, so far, they have gone a combined 6-15 in the last two seasons.
Last year’s 2-9 record sparked a coaching change and now former Washburn offensive coordinator Rob Robinson takes over as the new head coach for the River Hawks.
The Gorillas gave Northeastern State a warm welcome to the conference with a 41-20 blow out in 2012 in Tahlequah, Okla. and, for the third straight year, opens the season by facing the River Hawks Saturday, Sept. 6, at Carnie Smith Stadium.
Pittsburg State had little trouble defeating NSU in last year’s opener, 45-6. But with eight starters returning on offense and nine on defense, NSU will hope to keep the score line down.
Among those coming back from last year is running back Terrance Dixon who was an All-MIAA running back. He carried the ball 188 times last year for 720 yards, averaging 65.5 a game, and 10 touchdowns.
The receiving corps is projected to be led by Jordan Robinson and former PSU player, Garrett Powell. Robinson made seven starts in the 2013 season and led the team with 264 yards while Powell sat out last year.
But while Pittsburg State will be expecting an easy win, fans will finally get to see how the Gorilla offense can handle life without NFL wide receiver John Brown.
However, as head coach Tim Beck has said, PSU still returns plenty of other players.
“We have a bunch of players returning. This will be a grueling season playing every team, but we have a lot of players back,” Beck said. “We have guys who have been in the fire and know how to come from tough situations.”
Eight starters return on offense, including senior quarterback Anthony Abenoja who will be entering his third year as starting quarterback.
Abenoja passed for 2,954 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, going 183 out of 289 and five interceptions. Junior running back Jeff Seybold also returns after leading the MIAA in rushing yards, chalking up 1,434 yards off of 201 carries and 22 touchdowns, averaging 119.5 yards per game.
The PSU defense has to find a replacement for All-American linebacker Nate Dreiling, but with nine starters returning, the Gorillas should have valuable experience on the defensive side.
“We have a lot of experience coming back,” said senior safety Keeston Terry. “I know we lost Nate, but I think we have a few guys who can fill that role. I think we have the potential to be as good as we were last year.”
Terry finished 2013 with 64 total tackles, 35 of them solo and 29 assists.
Dreiling may have led the team in tackles with 109 total, but second-leading tackler senior Tyler Disney returns as linebacker. Last year, he put up 101 tackles, 46 of them solo, 55 assists and 3.5 sacks. He also had two interceptions returned for 96 yards.
Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. PSU-NSU will be the only MIAA game to be played this Saturday, while everybody else opens up on Thursday, Sept. 4.
- Volleyball hosts scrimmage
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pittsburg State volleyball team held its annual scrimmage/Autograph Day at John Lance Arena on Saturday, Aug. 23.
The scrimmage consisted of three matches with the Gorillas divided into Red and Blue sides. The blue team won the first two matches while the red took the final match.
After the scrimmage, the volleyball players signed posters for their fans.
“We still have a little ways to go,” said Jenny Mueller, head coach. “But I saw some really good things from different players. In the heat, it makes it a tougher game but we’ve been practicing in the heat every day and we’re hoping to make that a home court advantage for us.”
Mueller pointed out that both teams looked strong as the two sides kept it close throughout.
“They’re getting setter-hitter connections so we’re improving,” Mueller said. “Defense is making some strong moves on the court, too.”
Afterward, Mueller couldn’t pick out one player who stood out.
“It’s hard to pick out one person since volleyball is a six-person sport,” she said. “I’d say Madison Mossier had a couple of strong kills and Paula Okrutna had some kills and those only happen when your setting is very strong.”
Mueller added Hayley Hansford had some good plays.
“Defensively, we had some good plays by Aimee Wood and Ashlen Schwartz,” Mueller said. “We had some good competition on both sides so it was really competitive.”
During the off-season, changes have taken place within the volleyball team; among those being Mueller taking over after the retirement of long-time head coach Ibraheem Suberu. Other changes include communication among the players.
“We’ve really improved our communication and court awareness,” Mosier, sophomore, said. “We have a lot of leaders on this team. The coaches are really big on communication. We’re always talking, because if we don’t, there’s punishment. We’re communicating more.”
In previous years the volleyball scrimmage took place at Pittsburg High School’s gymnasium. This year, the event was moved back to campus.
“I loved having it here,” Mueller said. “It was nice to have it at the high school and be out in the community, but having it here at the Weede with all of the renovations that have been done, we’re just more than thankful for the donations and funding from the Whetzel’s and the many who have given their time and money to make this arena look nice. It was nice to have the community see us on our home court.”
Pittsburg State is tabbed at seventh in the preseason MIAA conference polls. Defending champions Central Missouri is No. 1 with Washburn and Nebraska-Kearney following at second and third, respectively.
“The conference is always going to be good,” Mueller said. “Nebraska-Kearney and Central Missouri are always going to bring in good talent. They’ve got a strong history there. There’s no easy win and that’s what I love about our conference: it’s so competitive.
“Every day you have to come out and compete and bring your A-game. I’m anxious to see how we’ll do against the other teams in the MIAA.”
UCM, Nebraska-Kearney and Washburn are also ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason poll.
Central Oklahoma, Emporia State and Missouri Western are ahead of the Gorillas while Northwest Missouri State and Lindenwood are behind. Fort Hays State, Missouri Southern and Southwest Baptist are at the bottom of the polls.
- Sneak Peak
Scrimmage foreshadows promising season
| Brett Collier reporter |
With two weeks to go until the 2014 season kicks off, the Pittsburg State football team held its second scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 23, at Carnie Smith Stadium.
The scrimmage featured the offense working through several game-like scenarios against the first-and second-team defense. While no official score was kept, the scrimmage provided the players with a chance to play at game speed and the coaches to evaluate where the team stands before the season begins.
Head football coach Tim Beck says that while expectations were met for this scrimmage, it took some time to get there.
“Early on, we didn’t meet expectations,” Beck said. “We came out here a little bit lackadaisical. We did some nice things offensively, we kind of sat back on our heels a little bit defensively. It got better as the scrimmage went. But overall, we expected a little better performance tonight.”
On offense, quarterback Anthony Abenoja, will begin his third year as a starter for the Gorillas.
Abenoja will have to lead an offense that will be without the services of three-time All-American wide receiver John Brown, who is now with the Arizona Cardinals.
Beck says he was pleased with how the offense performed in the second scrimmage than the first scrimmage.
“We were much better tonight,” he said. “They came out here and they were focused. They drove the ball down the field, they were able to get the ball in the (end) zone a couple of times. It’s been better than it’s been up to this point.”
The offense was able to put the ball in the end zone in different, but effective ways. Using various groups of players, the offense was able to utilize the short passing game to drive the ball down the field and eventually get the ball over the goal line.
On defense, the Gorillas lose four-time All-American linebacker Nate Dreiling, but with linebacker Tyler Disney, senior in exercise science, returning, the defense looks to remain potent.
Beck says he likes what he has seen from the defense so far during practice.
“On defense, we’re very talented,” Beck said. “But we still have to get everybody on the same page. We have to get everybody playing really, really hard on every play.”
The defense was able to show just how much talent they have, causing a fumble, putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing a safety at the end of the scrimmage. Overall, Beck says he wants to see more from his team the next two weeks of practice.
“When school started it was real hot,” Beck said. “We handled the heat alright the first day, but we haven’t really been able to since then. We’re doing OK. We definitely need all of next week before we get into game week.”
Beck added the team still has a lot to go through before its first game Saturday, Sept. 6, at Carnie Smith Stadium against Northeastern State.
“We still have a lot of things to cover,” he said. “We’ll have what’s called a mock scrimmage where we’ll go through all situations. We have a lot of stuff we still have to cover. There’s still a lot of work to be done before we get into a game-week situation.”
After their game against Northeastern State, the Gorillas will play on the road back-to-back weeks, starting with a Thursday night game at Lindenwood University on Sept. 11, before hitting the road again to take on Washburn University on Sept. 20.
- Gearing Up
PSU looks to return to playoffs
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
It didn’t seem fair to the Gorillas.
A 35-21 loss to the Missouri Southern Lions on the final day of the regular season kicked PSU out of contention for the NCAA Division II playoffs for a second consecutive year despite a 9-2 regular season record and finishing the season ranked 19th in the AFCA coaches poll.
Emporia State, a team that PSU didn’t get to play, took advantage of the Gorilla loss and jumped ahead in the regional rankings to snatch a spot in the playoffs after going 9-1 in the regular season while PSU had to settle for the Mineral Water Bowl.
It didn’t matter that the Gorillas only other loss was to the eventual national champions, Northwest Missouri State Bearcats, and it didn’t matter that PSU had to play a daunting October schedule against Division I Abilene Christian, Central Missouri, NWMSU and Missouri Western State consecutively. It was also a tough ending for All-Americans John Brown, receiver, and Nate Dreiling, linebacker. The two players would see the playoffs only once in their years at PSU.
But if Pittsburg State had any trouble finding motivation in its final game, it didn’t show as the Gorillas scorched Southwest Minnesota State 90-28, breaking the record for the most points in the Mineral Water Bowl’s history.
“The nice thing was we still got to play a game after the loss to MSSU,” head coach Tim Beck said. “We were able to finish up on a positive note.”
With nine starters returning on offense and nine on defense and three on special teams, the Gorillas are in prime position to carry that momentum from last year’s bowl game to get back to the national playoffs this year.
PSU enters 2014 ranked second in the MIAA coaches and media preseason polls, right behind NWMSU.
The schedule won’t include Lincoln or Southwest Baptist, two teams that PSU easily beat. Since both schools have left the MIAA in football, the conference has introduced a conference-only schedule for all 12 teams, meaning PSU will face conference foes Washburn, Fort Hays State and Emporia State for the first time since 2011. The new round robin scheduling should quell most arguments over regional rankings.
“We have a bunch of players returning, and this will be a grueling season playing every team but we have a lot of players back,” Beck said. “We have guys who have been in the fire and know how to come from tough situations.”
The schedule shouldn’t be any tougher than what the Gorillas went through last year.
Pittsburg State will get a comfortable start to the season by facing Northeastern State for the third consecutive year.
The Gorillas will then play a Thursday night game all the way in St. Charles, Mo., against Lindenwood.
PSU travels to take on Washburn at Yager Stadium in Topeka. The last time PSU faced Washburn, the Gorillas were on their way to a national championship, beating the Ichabods in the playoffs, but Washburn isn’t as dangerous as it was in 2011.
Following that, PSU will entertain the Fort Hays State Tigers in the Jungle in a conference-televised contest. Since 2011, the Tigers have improved under head coach Chris Brown, coming off a 6-5 overall record.
PSU will face Missouri Western and ESU on consecutive weeks before going against the Bearcats in the annual Fall Classic in what will be the toughest stretch of the schedule.
It will also mark the first time since 2001 that PSU and NWMSU won’t play each other on a neutral site as the 12-year battle at Arrowhead Stadium has come to an end with the Gorillas traveling to Maryville, Mo., this year while hoping to end the two-year skid against the Bearcats.
“I loved playing at Arrowhead but it’s above our heads and we enjoyed it as it lasted,” senior safety Keeston Terry said.
Nebraska Kearney will get to make the six-hour trip to Pittsburg on Oct. 25. If the Gorillas want to avenge last year’s loss against rivals Missouri Southern in the Sonic Miners Bowl, then they’ll have to do it in Joplin, Mo., on Nov. 1 before facing Central Missouri and Central Oklahoma for the regular season finale.
Defense looks to succeed without Dreiling
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
Just like John Brown on offense, the Gorilla defense faces the impossible task of replacing Nate Dreiling. The former linebacker became the second position player in PSU history to earn All-America honors in all four seasons and is now the assistant coach at Humboldt High School, leaving the Gorillas with a void to fill on defense.
Fortunately for PSU, the Gorilla defense returns nine starters from last year’s unit, which finished third in the MIAA in total defense and second in scoring defense.
“We have a lot of experience coming back,” said safety Keeston Terry, senior from Blue Springs, Mo. “I know we lost Nate, but I think we have a few guys who can fill that role. I think we have the potential to be as good as we were last year.”
Terry finished the year with 64 total tackles, 35 of them solo and 29 assists.
Dreiling, who led the team in tackles with 109 total, may be gone but second-leading tackler Tyler Disney will be back at linebacker, after chalking up 101 tackles, 46 of them solo and 55 assists and 3.5 sacks. He also had two interceptions returned for 96 yards.
Joe Windscheffel is another linebacker that the Gorillas lose, but Eric Brantley, junior from Kansas City, Mo., will try to get some playing time.
The corner back position will feature Aries Herrion, senior from Tulsa, Okla., and Dino Teague, junior from Tulsa, Okla., returning. Herrion earned All-MIAA honors after recording 24 tackles with three interceptions and four pass break-ups.
Strong safeties Jason Peete, senior from Olathe, earned All-MIAA honors in 2013 and Scott Roderique, junior from Webb City, Mo., looks to improve with more experience.
Starting free safety Deron Washington, sophomore from Raymore, Mo., and Isaac Maselera, senior from Tulsa, Okla., will look to challenge for the starting job.
De’Vante Bausby, senior from Kansas City, Mo., is back at cornerback after earning All-MIAA honors in a season that included 33 tackles with three interceptions and nine pass breakups.
The defensive end spot might be at a question mark with the departure of Joe Uzzel, a first team All-MIAA honoree.
Pittsburg State’s defense was fourth Uzzel, a first team All-MIAA honoree.
Pittsburg State’s defense was fourth in the league in rush defense with 1,835 yards, while the unit was ranked second in the MIAA in pass defense with 2,226 yards and 15 touchdowns. They were also second in pass defense efficiency at 110.1 but were seventh in the conference in interceptions with 12, one of them being for a touchdown.
In sacks, the Gorillas were tied for third with Nebraska Kearney at 24 total for 168 yards, behind Northwest Missouri State and Washburn.
Pittsburg State was fourth in opponent first downs and third on opponent third-down conversions with 62 while finishing third on opponent fourth-down conversions.
The MIAA may have proved to be among the best conference in Division II with Northwest Missouri State and PSU winning the title in the last five years with solid defensive performances. But the conference is also a battlefield of powerful offenses, including Missouri Southern State’s triple option attack that was second in the nation in rushing yards. The Gorillas will look to their nine returning starters for an advantage.
“Every week will be a challenge,” said Terry. “The good thing is that we have a lot of players who are good enough to face everyone.”
- PSU names director of strength training
Michael Bauer, Sports Editor
Matt Nelson may have been lining up against PSU while playing for Northwest Missouri State on the football field just a few years ago. But now, he’ll be assisting Pittsburg State’s athletes in the coming school year.
Pittsburg State has named Matt Nelson as the director of strength training and nutrition for the Gorillas.
The graduate from NWMSU is transitioning from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. He served as the Cardinals’ head strength and conditioning coach last year. Before that, he was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at fellow Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) school Northwest Missouri State. He also served strength and conditioning internships at Texas Christian University and the University of Missouri during the past three years.
Nelson’s job will be to provide help and training in strength development, physical conditioning, injury rehabilitation and nutrition for PSU athletes. Nelson will also conduct and monitor strength and conditioning programs for all athletic teams and monitor and advise student athletes on proper nutrition in addition to provide oversight and management of the strength and conditioning facility.
“We are excited to have Matt Nelson join the Pitt State family as our director of strength and nutrition,” said Jim Johnson, athletic director on the PSU athletics page. “It became obvious in the search process that Matt’s previous experiences and talents are a perfect fit to help him come in and help our student athletes and our teams succeed.”
Nelson’s education includes a bachelor’s of science degree in corporate recreation and wellness in May 2009. He earned a master’s of science degree in applied health/sports sciences from NWMSU in May 2011. Nelson is a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
While he was at NWMSU, Nelson was a three-year starter for the Bearcats, playing from 2006-08. In addition to facing the Gorillas in the regular season each year, Nelson also faced PSU in the national play-offs in 2007 and 2008.
“In addition to being a young, energetic individual, Matt has a good level of knowledge in his specialty areas,” said PSU head football coach Tim Beck. “He connected very well with our athletes during his day on campus and his knowledge of the MIAA certainly is an added bonus as well.”