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Kiante Hardin, junior cornerback, runs the ball during the game against Central Oklahoma. Hardin broke loose for a 59-yard punt return touchdown to put the Gorillas on top 21-0 in the first half.

Gorillas break Bronchos to start 1-0

A rainy day gave way to a clear night for the opening football game of the season at Carnie Smith Stadium. Pitt State football took the win over Central Oklahoma by a score of 21-7 Thursday, Aug. 30, in front of 7616 fans.  

The Gorilla offense started off hot on the opening possession of the game with a 10 play 78 yard drive to take a quick seven-to-nothing lead. Pitt State pounded the running attack throughout the drive primarily through redshirt sophomore Tyler Adkins. Adkins had five caries for 44 yards with a six yard option run to end the drive in the end zone.  

A pivotal moment came early in the second quarter when redshirt freshman backup quarterback B.J. Bradbury’s pass was dropped and subsequently batted in the air and intercepted by UCO. With the ball at the PSU 24 yard line it looked as if the Bronchos could easily tie things back up, but on a third and one running play the defense held and forced a field goal. A missed field goal later and the Bronchos were out a close game. 

The following drive saw the offense finally break out once again. Junior wide receiver Lorenzo West was the highlight maker of this scoring drive in both the running and receiving game. West caught a 13 yard pass to start the drive, ran for another 18 yards off a jet sweep and capped off the drive with a 20 yard touchdown reception thrown by senior quarterback John Roderique.   

After the kickoff, UCO offense did what it did most of the night and went three and out. UCO made the mistake punting to junior KiAnte Hardin who promptly took the kick 59 yards to the house to give the Gorillas a 21-0 halftime lead.  

Both offenses where bogged down in an intense game of punts and turnovers after the break. Pitt was never able to deliver a knockout blow and UCO still had difficulties moving the ball. Central Oklahoma did manage to get a long 51 yard touchdown pass in the fourth, but that score came to little too late.    

That broken coverage did not take anything away from PSU’s defense performance. The unit held UCO to 234 total yards of offense with 135 through the air and 99 on the ground. The defense was particularly good on third downs where they held on 13 of 14 attempts. Leading tacklers included sophomore safety Morgan Selemaea with seven tackles and junior D lineman Simanu’a Thomas with another seven tackles, including one and a half of the team’s four sacks. 

Offensively the player of the game was awarded to West with his big day as a dual threat receiver and runner. West compiled 47 rushing yards on seven carries alongside 78 yards on four catches and a touchdown through the air. Roderique started the game under center and played the lion’s share of the time, ending with a modest nine for 13 passing and totaling 104 yards. Eight different runners contributed to rushing attempts and totaled to a substantial 225 yards. 

Thursday, Sept. 6, the Gorillas will visit Emporia State in a battle of the undefeateds after Emporia opened their schedule with a 34-7 over the Northeastern State Riverhawks. The next home game is family day in the jungle Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. against Nebraska-Kearney. 

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