Northeastern State played host to the No. 23 ranked Pittsburg State Gorillas Saturday night in what was far from an even match. Pitt State left Tahlequah as 45-7 winners to stay undefeated in three games this season.
The win gave Pitt State nine straight wins dating back to last season and their best start since 2014, which also marked the last season in which Pitt advanced to the Division-II football playoffs.
The Riverhawks on the other hand came into the game following a one win season last year, and two lopsided losses to begin the 2018 campaign.
Head coach Tim Beck on the “Tim Beck Show” was happy with his team’s ability to put together a complete game.
“(We had) several different people make sacks, and some big interceptions, four interceptions,” Beck said. “Tyler Adkins ran the ball very well, had over 100 yards and had some other backs ran well. Couple quarterbacks that played well and receivers caught the ball and so you know total team effort.”
The total team effort shows up in the stat sheet for the Gorillas, but shines in the running game where Pitt was able to gash the Riverhawk defense for 285 yards on 52 carries, and three scores.
“I felt like that I saw our offense line get some really good movement at times, and along with our tight ends, and there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but we flat just moved some people off the ball and they knew we were going to run the ball and we still were able to run it effectively.”
Sophomore Tyler Adkins took the bulk of the work with his 17 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, but the offense saw eight different runners get carries throughout the ballgame.
Thanks to the big lead and the effectiveness of the running attack, senior quarterback John Roderique wasn’t asked to throw the ball much this week, but was efficient he did. Roderique completed 12-16 passes for 108 yards including an 18-touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore Brenner Clemons.
The offense played well, but the defense featured the real standout performances. Four Riverhawk passes were intercepted in the ballgame including one by senior Matt Magee who brought it back 45 yards to the house. Pass rushing was also key with the Gorillas claiming five total sacks on the NSU quarterback and 12 tackles for loss.
“We’ve had a lot of sacks, several interceptions, we’re getting good pressure,” Beck said. “We just need to have that attitude that we can go out there and dominate on defense. Gotta give all our coaching staff on the defensive side and defensive players a lot of credit. They’ve done a tremendous job.”
The final phase of the game produced the MIAA “Special Teams Player of the Week” in sophomore kicker Jared Vincent. Vincent made all six of his point after-attempts in the ballgame and also drove in a 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The win must have impressed many across the country as Pitt State was propelled eight spots up the rankings to No. 15 in the “Division-II Football Coaches Poll.” Pitt’s unblemished 3-0 record also keeps the Gorillas in a tie atop the conference with Northwest Missouri State, the nation’s fourth ranked team.
Next week, Carnie Smith Stadium will play host to families and go against the 2-1 Nebraska-Kearney Lopers. Activities throughout the day will all lead up to a 7:00 kickoff.