The Pittsburg State Gorillas are glad their typically strong second half brought them home winners from Fort Hays State last weekend, but they know four quarters of consistency will be needed to end the year on a positive note, including taking on Nebraska-Omaha at home at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The Pittsburg State Gorillas are glad their typically strong second half brought them home winners from Fort Hays State last weekend, but they know four quarters of consistency will be needed to end the year on a positive note, including taking on Nebraska-Omaha at home at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Tied 14-14 at the half and falling behind 21-14 in the third quarter at Fort Hays, Pitt State rallied on both sides of the ball to settle the issue 31-21.

Standing 4-4 on the season and 2-4 in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play, Pitt State is not taking Nebraska-Omaha (3-5, 3-3 MIAA) lightly, because the Mavericks had Central Missouri down 31-7 late in the game last weekend before losing 34-31, said PSU head coach Tim Beck.

“They’re a physical, aggressive team with big linemen, good backs and a great tight end, Mike Higgins” Beck said Monday. “They’re a quality opponent, and they’ll be upset when they come in here — excited to play again and trying to get that taste out of their mouths.

“While we are not pleased to be 4-4, we are pleased that the players have played extremely hard. They haven’t executed as well as we hoped, but injuries have caused problems that we’ve had a hard time overcoming. The MIAA is a tough conference.”

Beck said defensive lineman Gus Toca, returning this week, is one of several big guys who got hurt.

Inexperienced juniors logged playing time and tight ends Blake Byford, Bristan Kelly and Tell Wyrick struggled.

“We’ve had to shuffle guys around in the offensive and defensive lines,” the coach said. “They get people coming at them from a lot of different directions.”

The Gorillas aren’t counting on history to get them a win, but Beck noted that they have won their last two home games against Nebraska-Omaha. They’ll then take on Truman State at home Nov. 6 before heading to Arrowhead Stadium for the annual Fall Classic against conference power Northwest Missouri State.

Senior free safety Alex Kuhlman, whose No. 9 has become familiar for PSU fans looking for bright spots, continued his pattern at Fort Hays with six tackles, a blocked punt in the first quarter that led to a touchdown and an interception that ensured victory in the final minute.

Asked why Pitt State has been a second-half team, the Ness City native from western Kansas said, “I think we like to come out and test the waters and see what kind of effort is needed to win the game.

“But you can’t do that in the MIAA. You’ve got to be firing on all cylinders. We have found ways to get it done in some games, and in others we found ways to lose. A handful of plays makes the difference.”

Planning a career as a physical therapist, Kuhlman predicted Pitt State will regain its past prominence.

“We’re setting a foundation for the type of football coach Beck will have the team playing in years to come,” he said.

“Our fan support was really evident in the second half of our game with Washburn,” he said, referring tothe two overtimes the team played to in a 35-34 loss. “We were down 28-7 at halftime, but during our comeback in the fourth quarter it was as loud as it had been at any time in my four years of playing here. That makes for a fun Saturday.”

James R. Campbell can be reached at james.campbell@morningsun.net.