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Gorillas get dominant win in season opener

PSU and UCM at the line of scrimmage during the first game of the season in Warrensburg, Missouri. Meah Copeland of the UCM Muleskinners

The Pittsburg State Gorilla Football team came out victorious Sept. 2 by a score of 35-16 against the thirteenth-ranked Central Missouri Mules.

From the opening kickoff down to the last sound of the buzzer, Pittsburg State was in control of the game against the Mules. 

“I love how the team came out focused from the beginning of the game all the way to the end,” said junior defensive lineman Keiondre Hall. “We had a few mistakes that the coaches will take care of but, overall, I loved our team’s effort and how we kept playing 100% no matter what the score was.”

The team came out of the gates controlling the tempo of the game, making it seem like Central Missouri could never get in a groove. This was part of the game plan that the Gorillas had in mind when it came to preparing for the game.

“We focused on playing fast and physical,” redshirt freshman linebacker Jack Barkley said. “It was very important for us to set the tone and not let UCM get their offense rolling.”

This gameplan was executed to near perfection and the score reflects that.

With Pittsburg State coming in as the underdog, they felt they had something to prove. This extra motivation really helped fuel the Gorillas.

With every game, no matter how big or small the victory, there is always room for improvement. The Gorilla defense looked very strong throughout the game but there are still a few things they need to focus on to reach their goals.

“As a defense, our job is to get the ball back to our offense,” Barkley said. “I believe that we need to cause more turnovers to help our defense out.”

The Gorilla defense held UCM to just 114 rushing yards and forced two turnovers.

The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that shined. The offense, led by quarterback Mak Sexton, seemed to be clicking on all cylinders as well. Senior wide receiver Elijah Harris was really happy with how disciplined and focused the offense played.

“One of the things that impressed me most was the fact that we got no penalties,” Harris said.

For it being the Gorillas first “real” game in two years, most people would expect penalties, but this Gorilla offense was disciplined enough to play smart and didn’t receive one.

Sexton finished the game with 232 total yards and five touchdowns. This ended up earning him MIAA Offensive Player of the Week, a feat not many players can put on their resume. Tucker Horak led the Gorillas with 126 rushing yards and Christian Carter led the Gorillas with 108 receiving yards.

This Gorilla football team believes the sky is the limit this year as long as they keep working as hard as they can day-in and day-out.

“We have very high potential,” Harris said. “This team is just so much closer and that’s one of the things that puts you ahead.”

The Gorillas will have their home opener on Sept. 11 against the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

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