PITTSBURG — A packed house at Carnie Smith Stadium dwindled down to a few faithful fans who stuck out the 45-11 Pittsburg State loss to Lindenwood on Saturday.
Frustration mounted for the Gorillas in the first half, as they were held to three points despite having the ball in the red zone three times before halftime.
After forcing the Lions into a three-and-out to begin the contest, the Gorillas began their first offensive possession on the 50-yard line, but couldn’t cash in, coming up short on fourth-and-one at the Lindenwood 24-yard line.
The Lions took over on downs following the defensive stand and drove the ball 76 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a five-yard touchdown run by Shakeem Wharton to go up 7-0.
Lindenwood struck again with under two minutes remaining in the first quarter on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Najee Jackson to Deantrell Prince to increase the lead to 14-0.
The Gorillas found an offensive rhythm in the second quarter, as they took over on their own 13-yard line and drove 84-yards in 17 plays, before settling for a 21-yard field goal converted by Jared Vincent to narrow the deficit to 14-3.
Pitt State was knocking on the door again after forcing a three-and-out in the following possession, but an interception on first-and-goal by Ricky McCoy gave the ball back to the Lions at their own one-yard line with three minutes remaining in the first half.
Another defensive stop for the Gorillas deep in the Lindenwood territory gave them the ball their own 40-yard line with just over a minute remaining before the half.
A pass from John Roderique to Slade Nordic for 21 yards put the ball on the Lindenwood 28-yard line with the clock winding down, but the Gorillas couldn’t put points on the board before halftime.
Lindenwood sustained the momentum going into the second half, forcing the Gorillas into a three-and-out on the first drive of the third quarter.
Things continued to go in favor of the Lions, as the punt following the stop of third down hit the back of a PSU player to give Lindenwood the ball at the Pitt State 19-yard line.
The Gorillas’ defense kept the Lions out of the end zone following the blocked punt, but a successful 27-yard field goal by Travis Spraul extended the lead to 17-3.
Lindenwood forced Pittsburg into punting again in the following possession and went 75 yards in under two minutes before scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run by Calen Campbell to cushion the lead to 24-3 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Lions continued to pull away, adding on seven more points with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Warren which increased the lead to 31-3.
Pitt State gained some momentum at the end of the third quarter, as Marcus Brantley forced a Lindenwood fumble, which was recovered by Paul Davis to give the Gorillas the ball at their own 19-yard line.
The Gorillas capitalized on the extra possession by going 81 yards in 13 plays and scoring on a three-yard touchdown run by Thomas LePage, who carried it into the end zone on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 31-11 with 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
The scoring drive was highlighted by a 25-yard pass from LePage to Jovon Wilson and included a 13-yard run by Lorenzo West.
Momentum stayed with the Gorillas after an onside kick was scooped up by Matt Magee to start a new PSU drive on their own 46-yard line, but four consecutive incomplete passes gave possession back to the Lions.
Lindenwood went on to add two more touchdowns before the end of the contest, scoring on a 21-yard run by Shakeem Wharton and again on a one-yard run by Nash Sutherlin.
Pitt State will host Washburn at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.