Pitt State football dropped it’s third game of the season Saturday, losing 40-23 at home to the Washburn Ichabods.
The Gorillas battled adversity all game long, including two quarterback injuries with third string freshman quarterback Matt Harman pressed into action, and in the end the Gorillas would fall in the season’s final home contest.
“I just told our football team the number one thing is we’re not going to make any excuses about why we lost other than you got to go play with the guys that you have,” Head Coach Tim Beck said. “Matt did some great things for us today, and he was put in a tough situation this week, and because of the position he’s been throughout the season he hasn’t had a ton of reps at practice so Matt did as good as he could possibly do, I’m proud of him.”
Harman would throw for 198 yards passing in his first career start on 13-33 yards passing. The offense was effective for most of the day with Harman at the helm, up to a point. Four times promising offensive drives stalled, and the field goal unit was sent out with sophomore kicker Jared Vincent converting three of four field goal attempts.
Despite these kicks, the special teams unit still shouldered much of the blame in the loss with two huge Washburn kickoff returns leading to touchdowns for the Bods.
“Special teams had a huge impact,” Beck said. “As good as we were a week ago against one of the best teams in the conference, we were that bad today on our coverage. Part of it—more than a part of it—was where the ball location was. It couldn’t be where it ended up being kicked. You take chances on what you are going to do coverage-wise with what we’re doing and the ball has got to be placed in the right place.”
Statistically, the game was a close one. Washburn narrowly out-gained Pitt through the air, but the Gorillas had a dominant 252 to 102-yard rushing advantage in the game. Turnovers were also not where Pitt lost the game as Washburn would actually turn the ball over one more time than Pitt in the game. Field position did play a huge role particularly on a windy day in Pittsburg.
“I thought it was big that in the third quarter we had the wind and we ended up battling field position the whole third quarter when it should have been the opposite way,” Beck said. “One was because of a kickoff return, one was because of a big play that they got that took it all the way to our side, to the red zone.”
The loss effectively eliminated the Gorillas from contention to go to the NCAA Division 2 playoffs, while a win would have likely been enough to guarantee a spot in the field.
“Obviously all of us are not very happy with the outcome today because we had hopes of getting into postseason, and so there’s some pretty upset guys in our locker room,” Beck said.
The regular season comes to a close next week against the hapless Missouri Southern Lions who come into the Miners Bowl rivalry game with just one win on the season. Kickoff will come at 2 p.m. in Joplin.