Curtis Meyer reporter
With a 9-1 record, Pitt State is headed into the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, and it’s looking familiar. The Gorillas are hosting the University of Indianapolis for the second year in a row, as they will look to make history repeat after defeating U-Indy 35 to 0 in last season’s game.
“Of course, we got to have a solid week at practice, treating every single practice like it’s the game, because U-Indy is coming to town. They have a great team, led by a great coach and we also have that, so I feel like just attacking every single day like it was gameday,” said senior running back Antwan Squire.
The Gorillas are coming off of a win in their final game of the regular season, beating the Central Oklahoma Bronchos in what was a tough 20-10 defensive win. Pitt State came out scoring early to take a 17-7 lead into halftime, but only managed a field goal for the remaining game.
Pitt States defense came up big, forcing three interceptions and four fumbles to shut down the Bronchos. With the win, Pitt State claimed their share of the MIAA championship, being crowned co-champions with Central Missouri.
The focus is solely on the playoffs now, as they look to go on a deep run. That all starts with the game Saturday, against another 9-1 team in U-Indy. The Greyhounds are the Great Lake Valley Conference Champions, with their lone loss coming against McKendree.
The Greyhounds have been dominating opponents in their conference, with their closest win being by 10 points. Their sole loss of the season was a 16-21 game, as their combination of tough defense and a well-balanced offensive attack.
They are averaging 253 passing yards per game, compared to just 206 by the Gorillas. Their running attack is just as dominant, averaging five yards a carry and 195 yards per game. The Gorillas sit at 4.5 yards per carry and 179 yards per game, not far behind.
The significant difference is on defense, where U-Indy has 20 sacks on the season compared to Pitt States 12. This is offset by Pitt States’ 19 interceptions, while U-Indy only has 9. Overall, these teams match up evenly, with the Greyhounds having the slight edge on offense while Pitt State’s defense has had more takeaways even if they allow more points.
The one thing that leaves the Gorillas in doubt is their quarterback situation, as starter Chad Dodson was injured two weeks ago. If Dodson is still unable to play, Ty Pennington will continue to fill in. While it was hardly a step-down last week, with Pennington going 18 for 30 with 108 yards and a touchdown.
While it wasn’t an offensive explosion, it was enough to claim the win, and with the defense playing at an elite level it won’t take much for the Gorillas to pull out the win.
“The team is always better when you have two great guys like that at the position, both Chad and Ty are two great quarterbacks that can win a game. We don’t think that position, regardless of who is playing, will affect anything or the gameplan, those are two great guys at that spot,” said Squire.
Looking ahead, if the Gorilla can pull out the win, they will play the winner of Grand Valley State and Ferris State. If Ferris wins, the Gorillas will play at home, but if Grand Valley wins it will be another long trip to play in the cold. Despite this, the Gorillas are not worried, focusing on winning the games as they get here.
“I don’t think that’ll affect our game at all. Of course, it would be an advantage to have home field throughout, but no matter where we go, we are going to play Gorilla football,” said Squire.