PITTSBURG — It didn’t take long for Pittsburg State University’s Football team to find its grove.
The Gorillas opened the season in a slugfest, outlasting a late Central Oklahoma rally on their way to an 21-7 victory
Pitt State entered halftime with a 21-0 advantage. Pittsburg State’s stifling defense was too much for the Bronchos to overcome.
Defensive lineman Simanu’a Thomas led the Gorillas with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks.
“The coaching staff did a great job of preparing us this week.” said Thomas after the game. “Hats off to Central Oklahoma, they’re a great team. At the end of the day, we got more big plays, and that was the difference.
In the first quarter, Tyler Adkins punctuated a good opening drive with a rushing touchdown from six yards out to give Pitt State a 6-0 advantage.
Early in the second quarter, the Broncho’s picked off a B.J. Bradberry pass that was batted into the air deep in Pittsburg territory.
The Gorillas held firm, forcing three consecutive stops. Broncho’s kicker Jared Vincent missed the field goal attempt from 38-yards out.
Pitt State extended the lead with 4:33 to go in the second. Starting quarterback John Roderique floated a back-shoulder throw to Lorenzo West in the back of the endzone to add to the lead.
Gorilla’s KiAnte Hardin broke the game open late in the second quarter, returning a punt return from 51-yards out. Pitt State converted the extra point to push the lead to 21-0.
Pittsburg’s defense was stifling from the onset, allowing only 61 yards and 2.35 yards-per-play in the first half.
The defensive line led the push on that side of the ball, getting sacks from Elijah Jeffcoat and Simanu'a Thomas in the first two quarters. Thomas was in the backfield often for Pitt State, recording two tackles-for-a-loss in the opening half.
“As a unit, we did a great job of playing together and forcing mistakes.” added Thomas.
Central Oklahoma finished the first half with only four first downs, compared to 13 from the Gorillas.
It was much of the same for the home team on defense to start the second half. The Gorillas front four continued to get pressure on Keats Calhoon, forcing a three-and-out on the opening position.
The Bronchos finally found a break through early in the fourth quarter. Calhoon found wideout L’liott Curry open down the sideline for a 51-yard score.
The Gorilla offense switched its focus to controlling the clock, running inside the tackles and throwing short and immediate passes.
Roderique completed 9-13 passes for 104 yards and a score. Adkins rushed for 62 yards to go with his first quarter plunge.
West ran for 47 yards. As a team, Pitt State rushed for 245 yards on 53 carries.
Both teams came into the season opener on a six-game win streak dating back to last year. Pitt State defeated the Bronchos 49-31 last season.
Pittsburg holds the all-time series lead against Central Oklahoma 10-4-1.
The Gorillas travel to Emporia to take on Emporia State. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.