With its 38-17 deconstruction of Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri State defeating Washburn 52-28 on Saturday, Pittsburg State became the lone undefeated team in the MIAA (8-0 overall, 7-0 MIAA) and the Gorillas also moved up to No. 3 in the American Football Coaches Association poll released on Monday.

With its 38-17 deconstruction of Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri State defeating Washburn 52-28 on Saturday, Pittsburg State became the lone undefeated team in the MIAA (8-0 overall, 7-0 MIAA) and the Gorillas also moved up to No. 3 in the American Football Coaches Association poll released on Monday.

Unable to replace Nebraska-Omaha on their schedule, the Gorillas have a bye week coming up before home games against Washburn (Nov. 5) and Missouri Southern (Nov. 12) to close out the regular season.

Ground Dominance
Pitt State played to its offensive strength — run, run, run with occasional big pass plays to keep opponents honest and to make them pay — on Saturday against Central Missouri, running for 366 yards and three scores on 57 carries and burning up 36 minutes, 57 seconds of game clock.
Head coach Tim Beck knew coming in against the potent big-play offense of Central Missouri his team’s running game could help out his defense immensely by keeping Central’s offense off the field.

“For us, offensively, it will be important for us to try to take care of the football the best we can and running some time off the clock will be an important part of the game,” Beck said at last Thursday’s press conference.

Aside from three fumbles (one lost) by quarterback Zac Dickey and eight penalties for 70 yards, Pitt State played clean football in patented Gorilla smash mouth style.

Dickey rushed for a game-high 111 yards and two TDs on 22 carries. Briceton Wilson gained 92 yards on 15 carries, highlighted by a 44-yard touchdown run. Jason Spradling added 66 yards on 11 carries. Eric Love, known for his blocking abilities, showed his running capabilities with a 49-yard gain on his only carry. Sophomore receiver and returner John Brown added 28 yards on three carries, as the Gorillas continue to find additional ways to get the football in the hands of receivers Brown, Jon Thomas and Andrew Castaneda.

The Gorillas have surpassed 2,000 yards on the ground — 2,368 yards and 22 TDs on 366 carries, averaging 296.0 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. These numbers rank Pitt State No. 1 in the MIAA and No. 3 in Division II, behind only Harding (384.1 ypg) and Midwestern State (334.4 ypg). The Gorillas are tied for 13th overall nationally in total offense (466.0 ypg).

On the season, Dickey leads PSU with 686 yards and 10 TDs on 112 carries and Wilson has 654 yards and seven TDs on 126 carries.

Tenacious D
The Pitt State defense surrendered 177 yards and no touchdowns to a pass offense ranked No. 6 in the nation, averaging 330.4 yards per game. Entering the game against Pitt State, Central was averaging 352.3 passing yards.

Central’s strong-armed senior quarterback Tommy Corwin enjoyed one of his worst games of the season, completing 17 of 39 passes for 177 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

“We have allowed the fewest amount of sacks in the conference with four,” Beck said on Thursday. “They’re the next team in the conference. They’ve only allowed eight and they’ve thrown it so many more times than we have, which is amazing and most of those sacks were against Missouri Western.

“Our front four, staying in their rush lanes and not losing contain and then finding a way to get pressure, will be extremely important.”
Pitt State regularly applied pressure on Corwin — linebacker Nate Dreiling led with 11 tackles, linebacker Luke Stringer had six tackles, defensive end Joe Uzzel four tackles and one sack, defensive end Spencer Worthington four tackles and defensive end Gus Toca three tackles and one sack.

The Gorillas may have ended with two sacks, but they played aggressive, swarming defense without giving up a plethora of big plays.
On Monday, Dreiling earned MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors for the third time this season. Not only did he lead Pitt State with 11 tackles (6 solo, 5 assist), he also led Pitt State with three pass breakups.

“It’s always tough when people spread out for the whole length of the field,” Dreiling told B.J. Harris of KKOW on Saturday, “but we did an alright job today. We got sloppy on a couple things, but we’ll pick that up and we have a bye next week.”

Redshirt freshman safety and Nebraska-Omaha transfer Jason Peete made five tackles and intercepted one pass. Defensive backs Bryant Sanchez and Paul Robinson added four tackles, Jake Catloth and Aries Herrion three and De’Vante Bausby, Naeem Forrester and Elijah Olabode had two stops each. Robinson blocked a field goal and Sanchez forced a fumble on Central Missouri kick returner Anthon Kirkwood.

Note: The Sonic Miner’s Bowl — Pittsburg State hosting Missouri Southern at Carnie Smith Stadium — on Nov. 12 will be carried by the MIAA Broadcasting Network, it was announced Monday by MIAA Commissioner Bob Boerigter.