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Morning Sun
  • After beating Delta State, Gorillas are Alabama bound

  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas scored 21 unanswered points late in the second quarter, building a 35-13 halftime advantage en route to a 49-23 win over Delta State (Miss.) in a NCAA Division II semifinal game Saturday night at Carnie Smith Stadium.

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  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas scored 21 unanswered points late in the second quarter, building a 35-13 halftime advantage en route to a 49-23 win over Delta State (Miss.) in a NCAA Division II semifinal game Saturday night at Carnie Smith Stadium.
    "We're obviously very proud of our football team," Pitt State head coach Tim Beck said. "We have a very determined team and they love to play the game. We don't have to do a whole lot other than give them some direction as coaches and make sure that we're sound in what we do. Our leadership has been phenomenal and we are extremely excited and honored to go to Florence."
    Pitt State (12-1) returns to play in the National Championship game for the first time since 2004 and will face the Warriors of Wayne State (Mich.) next Saturday in Florence, Ala., for all the marbles.
    The Gorillas could not have asked for a better start to the game, at least on defense and special teams. Bryant Sanchez sacked Delta State quarterback Micah Davis for a 19-yard loss on the first play of the game, then Gus Toca stuffed running back Richard Freelon for a 2-yard loss deep in Delta State territory and Freelon dropped a Davis pass on third down.
    Pitt State receiver and returner John Brown has proven himself a game changer all season and he proved it again early in the game Saturday night when he returned an Andrew Jones punt 43 yards for the first points of the game.
    After playing from behind against Washburn and Northwest Missouri during their previous two playoff games, the Gorillas took a 7-0 lead 1 minute, 32 seconds into the game.
    "As soon as I caught it, it was like an open lane and wide open space," Brown said about the punt return. "I hit the hole and when I looked up the only person I saw was Nate (Dreiling), so I just went into the end zone.
    "I like to get off to a good start. I like to put away teams early."
    On the next Delta State possession, after the Statesmen gained one first down, Nate Dreiling forced a Davis fumble, recovered by Sanchez.
    Although Pitt State went three-and-out on its first offensive drive of the game, sophomore punter Jake Craig booted a high-enough punt to make Delta returner Brandon Lucas call fair catch at the Delta 9.
    Facing a fourth-and-7 at his own 13-yard line, Harlon Hill finalist Davis made a read on the Pitt State defense and decided to make a run for the first down rather than punt. Davis ran for 16 yards and a first down, and the Statesmen then maintained a lengthy drive that resulted in a Matt Dean 19-yard field goal.
    Turnovers derailed two Pitt State drives into Delta State territory — Delta State cornerback Dominique Davenport set a new Delta career record for interceptions (14) when he picked off a Zac Dickey pass and Delta linebacker Ixavier Triplett forced a Dickey fumble at the Delta 16 after Dickey had rumbled for 24 yards.
    Page 2 of 3 - However, on the next Pitt State drive after his fumble, Dickey set up a first and goal at the Delta 1 when he carried the ball and eventually half of the players on the field during a 27-yard run. On first and goal, short-yardage touchdown machine Mandel Dixon rumbled in for a 1-yard score and put the Gorillas up 14-3. This drive was again set up by the swarming Pitt State defense.
    After Delta scored a second field goal and a blocked punt returned for touchdown, Pitt State replied with a 47-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 17-yard pass to Brown and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jon Thomas.
    On the next Delta possession, Dreiling picked off a Davis pass and this pick gives Dreiling seven on the season.
    Three plays after Dreiling's interception, Dickey connected on a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brown and 28-13 Pitt State lead.
    On Delta's next offensive play after the Dreiling interception, Brant Botill coughed up the football and PSU senior defensive tackle J.R. Jones recovered the fumble at the Delta 36.
    On the next Pitt State play, receiver Andrew Castaneda threw his second touchdown pass of the year, a 36-yard toss to receiver Levi Kuntzsch on a receiver pass, giving Pitt State 21 unanswered points over the last 2:44 of the second quarter.
    Neither team scored a point during a third quarter marked by Pitt State turnovers and Delta State turnovers-on-downs.
    Jason Spradling added a 25-yard touchdown run and senior defensive back Paul Robinson put the Gorillas up 49-16 on a sprawling 91-yard interception return for touchdown.
    Wayne State defeated Winston-Salem State 21-14 on Saturday. Warriors quarterback Mickey Mohner hit receiver Josh Renel on a 25-yard touchdown pass on Wayne State's first possession of the game and ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead. The Warriors (12-3) held the Rams to a season-low 14 points.
    No. 7 GORILLAS 49, No. 8 STATESMEN 23
    DSU    3 10 0 10 — 23
    PSU    7 28 0 14 — 49
    Scoring summary
    First quarter
    PSU — John Brown 43 punt return (Chase McCoy kick) 13:28
    DSU — Matt Dean 19 FG 2:39
    Second quarter
    PSU — Mandel Dixon 1 run (McCoy kick) 7:17
    DSU — Dean 35 FG 5:12
    DSU — Bill Franks 34 blocked punt return (Dean kick) 4:01
    PSU — Jon Thomas 30 pass from Zac Dickey (McCoy kick) 2:44
    PSU — Brown 38 pass from Dickey (McCoy kick) 1:04
    PSU — Levi Kuntzsch 36 pass from Andrew Castaneda (McCoy kick) :46
    Fourth quarter
    DSU — Dean 29 FG 13:22
    PSU — Jason Spradling 25 run (McCoy kick) 11:27
    PSU — Paul Robinson 91 interception return (McCoy kick) 10:16
    DSU — Erick Clayton 35 pass from Micah Davis (Dean kick) :29
    Team statistics
    Page 3 of 3 -             DSU        PSU
    First downs        25        18
    Rushing yds.    58        246
    Passing        29-62-3    13-23-1
    Passing yds.        407        204
    Total offense    465        450
    Penalties-yds.    4-20        4-30
    Fumbles-lost    4-3        6-4
    Punts-avg.        4-33.8    3-34.3
    TOP            32:05    27:34
    3rd Downs        11 of 24    8 of 14
    4th Downs        1 of 6    0 of 1
    Red Zone        3-6        1-2
    Individual statistics
    RUSHING — DSU, Richard Freelon 13-50, Rafael Mitchell 3-16, Bryce McBride 2-6, Brandon Lucas 5-6, Avery Horn 2-5, Brant Botill 3-4, Micah Davis 15-(-29). PSU, Jeff Seybold 5-58, Jason Spradling 8-57, Zac Dickey 13-55, Eric Love 2-41, Briceton Wilson 9-24, John Brown 1-6, Luke Rampy 1-5, Mandel Dixon 2-1, Team 1-(-1).
    PASSING — DSU, Davis 27-58-1-3-365, Kevin Vye 2-2-0-0-42, Lucas 0-1-0-0-0, Team 0-1-0-0-0. PSU, Dickey 12-22-2-1-168, Andrew Castaneda 1-1-1-0-36.
    RECEIVING — DSU, Chance Dennis 11-131, Erick Clayton 4-95, Bill Franks 3-61, Richard Freelon 3-26, Tim Smith 3-18, Brant Botill 2-39, Carlton Ollie 1-19, Dex Hopkins 1-10, Avery Horn 1-8. PSU, Jon Thomas 5-64, Brown 4-80, Castaneda 2-18, Levi Kuntzsch 1-36, Conner Combes 1-6.

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