Curtis Meyer reporter
The Gorillas took care of business on Saturday, defeating the Missouri Southern Lions 31-21. Pitt State remains undefeated as they prepare to take on one of their tougher opponents from last year. The Northwest Bearcats are just 4-3 this season, dropping contests to Central Missouri, Fort Hays, and Emporia.
“I would say that just having the opportunity to go back on the road to play a really good team, in (a) really good environment it will be a really good test for us. Sometimes we need to rise to the occasion or step up to the challenge, so the challenge in our eyes this week is the way we handle it, our response will come a long way as far as what happens on Saturday,” said senior safety Micheal Lacey.
Northwest Missouri sits in the middle of the MIAA standings offensively at seventh but is fourth overall in defense. With two of its three losses coming to ranked opponents, Northwest is still a dangerous team, with the second-best rushing attack in the conference behind only the Gorillas.
Conversely, Northwest boasts the best rushing defense in the conference, just ahead of Pitt State. It sets an intriguing showdown, as the best rushing attack faces the best rushing defense. Where Northwest falls behind, however, is in the passing game, ranking eighth in the conference, just behind Pitt State, but only tenth on the defensive side of the ball.
After a slow start to the season, the Gorilla offense is starting to come alive as the season progresses, scoring earlier in games allowing the defense to play with a lead. This bodes well for the Gorillas, as they hope to play some playoff football going into the back end of the season.
“I feel like we haven’t reached our full potential yet, I feel like once we kind of keep the gas on for four quarters we will get to see not only how good our offense is but how good our team is,” said junior running back Noah Hernadez.
Pitt State jumped a spot in the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll, sitting at number two behind undefeated Colorado School of Mines. That spot was previously occupied by reigning champs Ferris State, but they fell short in a loss to rival Grand Valley State this past weekend.
The shift in rankings means that the Gorillas are in sole control of their destiny moving forward, allowing them to take the number one ranking in their super region come playoff time if they can win out. This gives the game this week all the more importance, as the Gorillas look to keep their spot among the top of Division II football this week.
Northwest will be looking to get back into the hunt for the MIAA championship, as there is still hope for them to win out this season and end up on top with losses by a few other teams.