Curtis Meyer, reporter
The Gorillas win at home in the first game of the season. With a good show by the Pitt State defense, paired with three speedy touchdowns, all 58+ yards, the Central Missouri Mules were defeated by a score of 21-10.
“For us to get a big win, it’s really gonna give us momentum to go play Kearney at Kearney next week,” said wide receiver Bryce Murphy.
The Gorillas won the toss and elected to receive, driving all the way down the field to the opponents 13. The Gorillas attempted field goal was blocked by the Mules. The blocked field goal was scooped by the Mules and returned to the UCM 37.
This led to the Mules driving down the field, ending it with a 42-yard field goal.
“They came down quick, did some tempo, kind of rattled us a little bit. We got it figured out, adjusted to it, and from there on out we just ran with it and made plays all night,” said linebacker Alex Gaskill.
The Gorillas couldn’t get anything going on the next drive, but the defense stepped up. Defensive Lineman Cole Sample stuffed a run, causing the Mules to lose four yards. The Mules went three and out and punted the ball back to Pitt State.
Pitt State started out strong on the next drive, but quarterback Chad Dodson fumbled on the first play of the second quarter. The Mules once again were unable to take advantage, after another defensive shutdown by the Gorillas.
“The defense played fast tonight, everybody made plays and it was fun out there and we showed what we got,” Gaskell said.
On the next drive, things started to look sour when Dodson was sacked for a loss of 8 on second down, leaving the Gorilla offense with a 3rd and 18. However Dodson found tight end Devon Garrison for a 26-yard play and first down.
This all set up the first touchdown of the season. On the very next play, Dodson threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bryce Murphy, marking the first touchdown of the season for Pittsburg. The extra point was good, leading to a 7-3 Gorilla lead.
The defense forced yet another 3 and out, giving the ball right back to the offense. The Mules defense held firm, and the Gorillas were forced to punt. Central blocked the punt and gained a good field position.
The Gorilla defense saved the day again, when Gaskill made the tackle on fourth down to give the offense a second chance. The offense took the second chance and made a touchdown on the second play of the drive, with a deep pass once again from Dodson to Murphy this time for 58 yards.
“The big plays were a little bit of an equalizer tonight for us, we couldn’t generate a lot of consistent offence, but the big plays early on made up for that, said head coach Brian Wright.
This gave the Gorillas a 14-3 lead, which they kept going into the half. The third quarter started out much like the first, with both offenses struggling. However, Dodson hit paydirt again, this time for the first play of the drive. With a 71-yard catch to freshman wide receiver Kolbe Katsis, this one play touchdown drive made the score 21 to 3 in the Gorillas favor.
The rest of the quarter was a defensive battle. The defense more than made up for it, with two more fourth down stops to add to the first one.
“I think it’s just props to keeping our head, knowing what the situation is, and just putting our head down and going and executing the plays,” said linebacker P.J. Sarwanski when asked about the fourth down stops.
The Mules went out with a bang in the fourth, finding the endzone for the only time during the game, with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Mules quarterback Cedric Case, caught by wide receiver Arkell Smith. This would be the last score of the game, as the defense stopped them again on their next drive, giving the offense the ball and allowing them to kneel three times for the win.
Next week Pitt State will play Kearney at Kearney, Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Great teams win the first game,” Sarwanski said.