From start to finish, in every phase of the game, the Gorillas dominated Northeastern State, cruising to a 58-3 Family Day win.
The Gorilla defense held the Riverhawks to a mere 189 yards of total offense, allowing only nine first downs. Junior safety Alex Derryberry led the defensive attack with two interceptions on the night.
Pittsburg State’s offense rolled for 481 total yards Saturday with 221 yards on the ground, and 260 through the air.
A trio of quarterbacks saw action for the Gorillas. Junior, Brandon Mlekus got the start and went three of four passing with two touchdowns. Mlekus also gained 23 yards on the ground.
Redshirt freshman Mak Sexton provided a major spark for the offense going six of eight passing with two touchdowns. Sophomore Matt Harman completed five of eleven passes for 62 yards with one interception.
A trio of running backs split most of the carries Saturday as well. Junior Tucker Horak had ten carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns, junior Tyler Adkins had nine carries for 47 yards, and senior Kiah Kintchen had 45 yards on six carries.
Senior receiver Brenner Clemmons led the Gorillas with five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight-end Jon Meyer, and senior wideout Lorenzo West also had receiving touchdowns. After the game, Clemmons said each quarterback brings something unique when they lead the offense.
“My confidence is high with whoever is in the game whether it’s Brandon, Mak or Matt,” Clemmons said. “I think they all excel at their own things and they each can make plays and change games. It’s a three-headed monster.”
A big first quarter put the Gorillas in control early. Horak scored both of his touchdowns early with back-to-back scoring runs to make the lead 14-0 halfway through the first.
For most of the first half, the Riverhawks struggled to get the ball past mid-field. On Northeastern’s second drive, sophomore safety Adam Smith blocked a punt which was recovered by junior safety Morgan Selemaea and returned 46 yards for a touchdown. Junior kicker Jared Vincent added a 40-yard field goal on the next possession to give the Gorillas a 24-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sexton picked up right where the Gorillas left off driving 51 yards in four plays before throwing a 3-yard touchdown to sophomore receiver Bryce Murphy to give PSU a 31-0 lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
The Gorillas added a 24-yard strike from Mlekus to West, a 63-yard pass and catch from Sexton to Clemmons, and a 29-yard Vincent field goal to take a 48-0 lead into halftime.
The Riverhawks were more consistent in the second half, but there was no threat of a comeback. Mlekus capped off the amazing night for the Gorillas connecting on a 26-yard touchdown to Meyer midway through the fourth. From there, Pitt State ran out the clock to take a 58-3 victory and improve to 3-0 on the season.
Senior linebacker Chase Johnston said the lopsided score allowed lots of reserves to get valuable game action.
“We knew we were going to put up a lot of points against them, but we had to sharpen the knife, just come out and get better,” Johnston said. “I thought the second-team and third-team guys, once they got in there they did a good job and super proud of my friends.”
The Gorillas travel to Kearney, Neb. Saturday, Sept. 28, to face the University of Nebraska-Kearney. The Lopers are 2-1, with wins over Missouri Southern and Emporia State and a loss to Central Oklahoma. Kearney was picked ninth in the preseason poll, and has outscored opponents 93-76. Through the first three games, the Gorillas, who were picked third in the preseason, have outscored opponents 142-61.