Following the Gorillas last matchup, Oct. 19 against Fort Hays State, Pittsburg State’s suffered a crushing 42-41 defeat. The Gorillas came close to victory but missed the potential 38-yard game-winning field goal with 1:03 remaining.
“We had a lot of bright spots in the game, but, of course, there are always things you can learn from in every single game,” said Head Coach Tim Beck. “We had moments where we played really well on defense, then we gave up some big plays.”
Looking to bounce back from the loss, the unranked Gorillas travel to Warrensburg, Missouri to face an undefeated #11 Central Missouri team. The Mules come off a 34-27 victory, Oct. 19, over Emporia State.
The Mules feature the #1 ranked offense in the conference that averages 50.9 points per game. Central Missouri’s offense also ranked top in the conference in average yards per game, 563.1.
Central Missouri’s offense is led by their 6-3 senior quarterback Brook Bolles. Bolles ranks first in the conference in total touchdowns with 25 through seven games as well as offensive efficiency totaling 179.9 per game. The senior also positions second in the MIAA in average passing yards per game accounting for 316.6 yards.
“They do a really good job, they have a really good quarterback, receiver and some tight-ends who can catch. At the same time they are averaging over 200 rushing yards per game so they’re extremely balanced which makes them hard to defend,” said Dreiling. “So we’re going to have to make some plays here and there trying to slow them down.”
The Mules face a Gorillas defense who has been outscored in the last two games 80-58 giving up 451.5 yards per game.
“We just have to get better at doing the little things correctly,” said defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling. “We watched some fundamental stuff the last couple weeks and it’s shown up on the tapes so we’ll go back to doing the basic stuff and just getting better at each position every single day.”
Rushing the ball, the defenses have had a hard time containing the dominant tandem of juniors Devante Turner and Koby Wilkerson. Combined, the two running backs have provided 14 total touchdowns this season accumulating 1,030 yards as well.
Adding to their dominant offense, Central Missouri features two of the best wide receivers in the conference, sophomore Shae Wyatt and junior Zach Davidson. Wyatt leads the MIAA through seven games in total receiving yards with 722, averaging 103.1 per game and 24.9 yards per catch. Davidson ranks third in the conference in total yards this season tallying up 608 yards averaging evening out to 86.86 yards per contest.
The defense of the Mules features the top team in the conference when it comes to getting to the quarterback. Totaling 29 sacks through seven games, the Pittsburg State offensive line looks to keep their momentum going as in their previous game against Fort Hays, the line gave up zero sacks.
“We have to do the things that give us a chance to win. We have to control the ball, have to hold onto it and keep it away from their offense,” said offensive coordinator Dave Wiemers. “When we do hold onto it, whatever it is 10 or 12 plays, we have to finish those drives and just not miss.”
Central Missouri’s defense is led by their junior defensive back Codie Bell. Bell leads the team in total tackles this season with 43 total, despite playing only six games this season. The junior has also tallied up two interceptions and a safety for the Mules.
All-time against the Mules, Pittsburg State holds a 43-11-2 record winning 78.57% of their matchups with Central Missouri. In their previous meeting Oct. 20, 2018, the Gorillas topped the Mules prevailing 48-28. The matchup comes in a previous scenario as last season where the Gorillas were coming off back-to-back losses to Fort Hays State and Northwest Missouri.
“When you’re in this thing, it’s so week to week you just don’t really get ahead of yourself,” Wiemers said. “We’re all far enough to know that we need one this weekend. We’ll put a lot into it, give it all we got and it just needs to go our way.”
Kickoff at 1 p.m. in Warrensburg, Pittsburg State looks to avenge their subsequent losses in a matchup that could ultimately decide the fate of Gorillas season.