TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — A wild week-three matchup against the Northeastern saw the Pittsburg State football team cruise to a 68-21 win and improve to 2-1 on the young season.
Points came early and often in the shootout, as the Gorillas persevered through a momentum swing halfway through the contest to earn the win.
A blocked punt by Juante Baldwin set up the Gorillas’ first scoring drive, allowing them to take over on the Northeastern 30-yard line.
Pitt State advanced into the red zone and scored the first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard pass from Thomas LePage to Slade Nordic to go up 7-0 at the eight-minute mark of the first quarter.
A fumble forced by PSU defensive lineman Simanu’a Thomas in the next possession was scooped up by Marcus Brantley at the Northeastern 13-yard line to set up the second scoring drive.
The RiverHawks’ defense kept the Gorillas out of the end zone, but a 28-yard field goal by Jared Vincent increased the lead to 10-0 with five minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Northeastern received the ball in the early going of the second quarter, before a fumble forced by PSU linebacker Demetrius Bernard was picked up by Marcus Brantley, who ran 11-yards into the endzone to increase the lead to 17-0.
The Gorillas forced a three-and-out following the touchdown and took over on their own 41-yard line after the punt.
Pitt State’s offense drove 59 yards in eight plays and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by D’Vontae Brown to cushion the lead to 24-0.
Baldwin blocked his second punt of the game on fourth down in the next drive, and Paul Davis finished the job by securing the ball and running 17 yards into the endzone to push the lead to 17-0.
The RiverHawks began gaining momentum halfway through the second quarter, as a 75-yard touchdown pass brought them to within 31-7.
Vincent put three more points on the board for PSU via a 24-yard field goal before the half, but a four-yard touchdown pass by Northeastern to cap off a 96-yard drive to begin the second half put the RiverHawks back in the ballgame at 34-14.
Pittsburg State took the wind out of Northeastern’s sails with a 23-yard touchdown pass from LePage to Austin Panko to conclude an 80-yard drive and extend the lead to 41-14 at the four-minute mark of the third.
The RiverHawks continued to fight, as they found the endzone in the next drive on a 57-yard touchdown pass to come to within 41-21.
Pitt State answered with a 37-yard touchdown pass from LePage to Lorenzo West, which pushed the score to 47-21 in the final minute of the third quarter.
With a 26-point lead and 15-minutes remaining in the contest, the Gorillas turned to the redshirt-freshman quarterback Quez Allen to lead the offense.
The Gorillas marched 57-yards down the field in seven plays with Allen under center and scored on an eight-yard touchdown run by Nordic to increase the lead to 55-21.
Pitt State began putting the final touches on the win, as the defense forced the RiverHawks to punt in the following possession, which was returned 73 yards for a touchdown by Panko to make the score 55-27.
With several underclassmen in the game to close it out, sophomore running back Keynan Scheurich broke the goal line on a nine-yard touchdown run for the final score of the contest.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.