Jimm Alley Reporter
Both offenses got off to a slow start, trading punts on their first drives. Pitt State came back on their second offensive possession and pieced together a nine-play, 56-yard drive capped off by a three-yard rushing score by senior running back Antwan Squire.
After another three and out from the Cougars’ offense the first quarter came to a close with the Gorillas in the red zone, leading to a quick seven-yard touchdown run from Sophomore running back Cleo Chandler Jr. to put the Gorillas up 14-0 early.
On the Cougars’ next offensive drive, Pitt State Junior linebacker Alex Gaskill snagged an interception that set up the Gorillas at the Cougars 25 yard line. On the next play, redshirt freshman quarterback Ty Pennington found junior runningback Noah Hernandez wide open for a 33 yard touchdown.
The Pitt State defense showed once again why they are the top ranked defense in the conference, holding the Sioux Falls offense to 85 passing yards on the day. After the game, Gaskill described how the defensive was able to limit the Cougars’ passing attack.
“It’s all about eye discipline and being sound in the fundamentals,” Gaskill said. “Our corners do such a good a job, it can get kinda’ boring out there when they aren’t getting balls thrown at them all day. They’re just really good at staying patient and letting the plays come to them. Everybody else just does their job, accepts the respobsbilty, and we does it well.”
Junior quarterback Chad Dodson led the Gorilas out for their next drive backed up all the way to their own seven yard line. Dodson struck quick finding sophomore receiver Kolbe Katsis for a fifty yard bomb. Dodson then hit senior tight end Devon Garrison on a picture perfect fade route in the corner of the endzone to cap off a 93-yard drive and give the Gorillas a commanding 27-0 lead going into the half.
The Gorillas picked up right where the left off coming out of the locker room as Squire broke down the defense for a 61 yard run all the way to the house for his second rushing touchdown of the day. Squire finished the game as the Gorillas leading rushers with 96 yards on only 10 attempts.
Squire’s performance was a crucial part of Pitt State’s offensive gameplan to combat the weather conditions.
“The whole runningback room we knew the circumstances,” Squire said. “We saw the ground was a little wet and we had a conversation with the O-line knowing that today was gonna start with us, so we came out and made sure that we started fast in the run game.”
Sioux Falls began to show signs of life on their first offensive drive of the second half, managing to get down into the redzone, but the Gorilla defense showed their abilty to bend but not break as they held the Cougars to a field goal attempt that ended the shutout 34-3.
Katsis answered for the Gorillas taking the ensuing kick the full length of the field for a 100-yard touchdown return. The Cougars moved into the redzone again on their next possession, but the Gorillas came up with a second straight defensive stop to hold Sioux Falls to a second field goal to put the score at 41-6.
Pennignton capped off the next Gorilla drive with his second passing touchdown of the game, this time to freshman wide receiver Kam Gillespie for 10 yards.
Sioux Falls would continue to struggle in the passing game as their next possession would end abruptly on an interception from Carson Otworth, giving the Gorilla defense its second take-awayon the day.
A five-yard touchdown run from freshman runningback Eric Virgil would finish off the game and lead the Gorillas to an eight straight victory on the season with a final score of 55-6.
Pitt State Head Coach Brian Wright praised his team for playing a complete game, but said there is still room for improvement.
“The big key is to keep getting better,” He said. “We’re gonna be playing a really good team come next week and we really gotta be playing our best football this time of year. I’m proud that our group is starting to figure out how to focus on the things that really matter and the little details that help you win football games.”
The Gorillas are now 8-0 on the season, and ranked first in their region, and second nationally with only two games to go. They look to continue their winning ways as they prepare for a tough road test in St. Joseph, Mo. against the 7-2 Missouri Western Griffons.
Kickoff is set for 1:00pm at Spratt Stadium. Gorilla football can be heard on ESPN 100.7FM and can be viewed on the MIAA Network.