Curtis Meyer, Reporter
The Gorillas traveled to Topeka on Nov. 4 to take on Washburn’s Ichabod’s, winning 37-23 in a game that featured 7 turnovers by both teams combined. Pitt State is now firmly in control of the MIAA.
Pitt State won the toss to begin the match, deferring to give Washburn the ball to start. After a tackle for a loss by linebacker P.J. Sarwinski and safety Michael Lacey put the Ichabod’s in a 3rd and 6,
Washburn wide receiver James Letcher caught the ball on a quick slant, turning it up field and outrunning the Gorilla defenders to score an 84-yard touchdown on their opening drive. However, a missed extra point made it stay at 6-0.
With a 36-yard return by wide receiver Kolbe Katsis putting the Gorillas right at the 50, Pitt State was quick to respond, with a 6-play drive capped off by an 8-yard touchdown run by running back Caleb Lewis.
Within the first 5 minutes, both teams had already scored a touchdown. The Gorilla defense tightened down on Washburn’s next possession, causing them to lose 9 yards and force a punt on their first set of downs.
Driving down, Pitt State was looking at a 4th and 2 from the 3-yard line. Going for it, quarterback Chad Dodson found tight end Kaizer Newell wide open in the end zone, but Newell dropped the pass.
Despite this, the Pitt State defense was able to turn it to their advantage, with linebacker Dubem Okonkwo decking Washburn’s running back in the endzone, making a safety.
Now 9-6, wide receiver Jamahl Horne returned the kickoff 38 yards, putting it at the Washburn 34. After getting sacked on the first play of the drive, the Gorillas went for it on a 4th and 6, this time converting. A few plays later Dodson found tight end Devon Garrison for a 9-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead.
After an offside penalty on 4th down by Pitt State, the Ichabod’s got going, eventually scoring on a 3-yard run. With the score now 16-13, it was the Gorilla’s turn to answer.
Finding Garrison and wide receiver Mark Wheeland for big chunks of yardage, the drive ended with another touchdown pass from Dodson to Garrison from ten yards out, making it 23-13 with 8:53 left in the half.
After a bobbled handoff by Washburn that was recovered by safety Brandon Mlekus, Pitt State was set up just 41 yards from the endzone. After a 7-play drive that only featured runs by running back Cleo Chandler and one jet sweep by wide receiver Christian Carter, it finally ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Chandler.
Washburn was held to a quick 3 and out, Pitt State was forced to punt for the first time all game. After linemen Keiondre Hall sacked the quarterback and forced another fumble, fellow linemen Zeke Wall recovered with 43 seconds left.
With just 11 seconds left in the half, Washburn safety Peyton Lane jumped the route and intercepted Dodson, returning it all the way to the 12-yard line before Dodson caught up to him to save the touchdown. After two failed pass attempts, Washburn attempted a field goal, but missed.
The score was 30-13 as the Gorillas received the second half kickoff. Forced into another 3 and out, it became a defensive battle, with neither offense able to make much headway. The Ichabod’s were the first to break the stalemate, scoring a touchdown from 2 yards out.
On the Gorillas’ first play of their next drive, Dodson’s throw floated a little too much, leading to an interception at the Pitt State 36. With Pitt State holding the Ichabod’s on third down, they were forced to kick a field goal, making it 30-23.
At 3:22 left in the quarter, Pitt State took over. After a long drive that went into the fourth quarter, Dodson found Wheeland for a 7-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 37-23. From there on out, the defense took over on both teams.
The Gorilla defense forced Washburn to a 4th down and 1. Going for it, Washburn’s running back picked up the yardage but fumbled, with PSU recovering. Going down the field, Pitt was set up with a first down on the 12, but Dodson threw his third interception.
Despite this, Washburn could not capitalize, eventually punting. Playing the clock, Pitt State ran the ball, before punting again.
Washburn had the ball with 2:14 left, down two scores, and the Gorilla defense finally sealed the game with an interception by linebacker Alex Gaskill. Dodson kneeled to end the game.
Pitt State will play Fort Hayes next week, their senior day game and final game of the regular season. Fort Hayes is 3-7 after beating Northeastern State last week.