Curtis Meyer reporter
The Gorillas were able to defeat the Western Missouri Griffins on Homecoming Weekend thanks to a impressive second half, winning 28-16 after being down 3 points at half.
“It was imperative that we come out in the second half and make adjustments and come out flying and we did. I think we went on a span of 21 unanswered, props to the offense they came out firing,” said linebacker P.J. Sarwinski.
Pitt State won the toss and deferred to start the game.
Western’s first drive was somewhat successful, converting on third down twice before facing a third and ten at the PSU 25. Electing to go for it, the play on 4th down was blown up, with Western quarterback Reagan Jones sacked by linebacker Alex Gaskill and defensive end Brandon Stegall.
Despite the turnover, the Gorilla offense was not able to find points after the drive ended with a missed 50-yard field goal by kicker Cross Holmes. Taking over on downs, Western drove down, using up 6 minutes of clock and finishing their drive with a 19-yard field goal, giving them a 3-point lead early in the second quarter.
After both teams were held to quick three and outs on the next two drives, Western was forced to punt from their own territory. Linebacker Jack Barkley was able to block the punt, giving the offense the ball just 16 yards out from the end zone.
On a third down and 2 quarterback Chad Dodson found tight end Kaizer Newell for the 8-yard touchdown, giving Pitt the lead.
Western was forced to punt on another 3 and out, but the Gorillas were not able to capitalize after Dodson threw an interception on the second play of the drive. Western was able to drive down the field and score a touchdown, leaving 50 seconds for the Gorilla offense.
After Dodson was sacked on the first play, the Gorillas were content to let the clock run out. Pitt State was down 10-7.
“We have a veteran group, we have good leadership on our football team, our guys knew we weren’t playing as good football as we needed to play and not up to our standard. I just reminded them of that, we weren’t blocking like we’re capable of, we weren’t tackling, we weren’t finishing drives. It was just getting back to the fundamentals,” said head coach Brian Wright.
The Gorillas came out fighting in the second half, with Dodson finding his wide receiver Kolbe Katsis for the 67-yard touchdown off a slant route.
Western was forced to another 3 and out, and the offense had a 10-play drive that had two fourth down conversions, including a 21-yard touchdown run by running back Caleb Lewis. Lewis had a 101-yard game, continuing what has been a strong season for him.
“Coming to practice, you got to get better every day, going 1-0 every week starts at practice. We got a target on our back, but it doesn’t determine who we are, we just gotta go out there and practice hard every day,” said Lewis.
Now up 21-10 with over nine minutes left in the third, Pitt State kept up the pressure, forcing the Western offense to punt and giving the ball back to the offense. After Dodson escaped the pocket for a 42-yard run, he found wide receiver Christian Carter on the next play to extend the lead. The offense had scored a touchdown on three consecutive drives.
Western was unable to muster anything on their next drive, with the ensuing punt only going for 14 yards. After being forced to stop, the Gorillas tried on a 30-yard field goal attempt that was blocked as the third quarter ended.
Still unable to get going offensively, the Griffins punted, and Pitt State started running the clock out. Punting after an incomplete pass attempt, Western was forced to another quick three and out.
Pitt State ran another two minutes off the clock, before punting back to Western. The Griffins were finally able to score a touchdown. Trying a trick play for the 2-point attempt, the defense snuffed it out.
Taking the ball with 5:59 left, Pitt State ran out the clock, converting a fourth and five before ending with the kneel.
“They were a fast defense for sure, they played hard, they played strong. I feel like we played harder than we did the first half,” said Katsis.
The Gorillas will face the University of Central Oklahoma next week. The Bronchos are 5-3 after losing to Washburn on Saturday. It will be Central Oklahoma’s Homecoming Week.