PSU football moved to 2-0 Thursday night with a 34-13 at Emporia State. The win propelled the team into the national coaches poll rankings at #23.
The 21-point scoring margin was not, however, an indication of how most of this game was played. Before the fourth quarter, this game was a dogfight until Pitt was able to pull away.
The Hornets opened the game with a six play 83-yard touchdown drive. The drive saw several big runs with the largest being a 53-yarder that set up a 16-yard run touchdown on the following play.
The Pitt offense didn’t look like it would start any better, going three and out on the following drive, but they bailed out on a huge muffed punt and were able to get the ball deep in Emporia territory. That drive would stall at the six-yard line though, allowing sophomore kicker Jared Vincent to convert the first of his two short field goals for the day.
Redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Bradbury would get his time to shine on the Gorillas’ opening drive of the second quarter. His entrance made a big difference in waking up a stagnant offense with Bradbury converting a 33-yard run on the drive and completing his only pass for a 15-yard touchdown to junior KiAnte Hardin. The score capped a seven play, 74-yard drive, and gave Pitt the lead for the first time at 10-7.
Emporia, however, would immediately follow with a heavy batch of running plays to take the lead back at 13-10 going into the halftime break.
The defense came to play after the break, and would shut down the Hornet offense for the entirety of the second half. The pass coverage was strong for the entire game, but it took a step up in the running game for the defense to be effective. PSU did that, holding Emporia to just 42-yards rushing ,with most of that coming on the final drive after the game was decided in the second half, compared to the 139 yards given up on the ground in the first half.
The offense looked to set the tone with the opening drive of the period with a possession that looked like it came straight out of the 1940s. Pitt ran the ball 13 consecutive plays until things stalled out at the 11 and a field goal was kicked. The drive was notable in that it featured senior quarterback John Roderique under center instead of Bradbury despite the obvious effort to pound the run.
A couple failed drives later, and Pitt would finally take the lead for good early in the fourth with several big plays to put the game away. Things started looking good on a crucial third and seven when Roderique completed a 77-yard catch and run to sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo West before he was forced out at the five yard line. Two plays later, junior tight end Jackson Krull hauled in his first career touchdown reception.
Then, after the kickoff, Emporia kindly threw an interception to KiAnte Hardin and the Gorillas were back in business. Ten seconds later, sophomore receiver Brenner Clemons was standing in the end zone after catching a 56-yard bomb to put Pitt up 27-13.
Pitt would go on to put up an insurance touchdown on the following drive to seal the win.
John Roderique was named player of the game with his 11-22 passing for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sophomore Tyler Adkins was again the lead, back with 20 carries and 98 yards. Lorenzo West lead all receivers with five catches for 120 yards.
Pitt will be back on the road this Saturday in Tahlequah, Oklahoma to play Northeastern State. They will be back home the following Saturday for Family Day against Nebraska-Kearney.