TEXARKANA Ark. — It’s not about how a team starts, but how they finish.
Pittsburg State scored 41 unanswered points and defeated Arkansas Tech, 48-31, in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl on Saturday at Arkansas High School’s Razorback Stadium.
Michael Rose, the senior running back for the Gorillas, was named MVP, scored three times, and racked up 179 yards on 21 carries.
“We were a little rusty in the first half,” Pittsburg State head coach Tim Beck said. “It took us a while to get going. Our coaches did a nice job of making adjustments at halftime, and we played a great second half.”
Quarterback John Roderique, who came in with the Gorillas down 31-7, gave Pittsburg State a spark. Roderique hit on 21 of 28 passes for 221 yards and two TDs.
“Our coaches and players did a tremendous job of not panicking,” Beck said. “We have a lot of kids coming back, and we are pretty pumped about where we are on defense.”
Pittsburg State’s defense held the Wonder Boys scoreless in the second half.
Arkansas Tech quarterback Ty Reasnor, who hit on 7 of 9 passes for 145 yards in the first quarter, finished 17-of-37 for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Pittsburg State executed and did a good job,” Wonder Boys’ head coach Raymond Monica said. “They got off blocks and made plays in the second half like we were making in the first half. We controlled the clock in the first half, and they controlled it in the second.”
Lorenzo West caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Roderique to cap an eight-play, 64-yard drive in 3:38 for the Gorillas. The score brought the 17-point halftime deficit down to a 10 point lead, 31-21.
The Pittsburg State defense forced Arkansas Tech to punt twice in the third quarter.
Keynan Scheurich ran up the middle into the end zone on a 7-yard score late in the third to inch the Gorillas closer, 31-27.
Rose broke a tackle and rushed to the right side on a 27-yard touchdown run to give Pittsburg State its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter, 34-31.
After the Gorillas’ defense forced a three-and-out, the offense put together a six-play, 42-yard drive that was capped by a 12-yard rushing TD by Rose. Pittsburg State led 41-31 with 2:41 left in the game.
On the next Arkansas Tech possession, the Gorillas’ Demetrius Bernard sacked Reasnor on a fourth-and-10 to seal it.
D’Vontae Brown tacked on a 7-yard touchdown run for Pittsburg State to put the game out of reach, 48-31, with 35 seconds left.
The Wonder Boys dominated the first half. Eric Perez connected on a 20-yard field goal to give Arkansas Tech an early 3-0 lead.
After the Gorillas were forced to punt, Reasnor threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Terrez Hampton as Arkansas Tech took a 9-0 lead. The PAT kick bounced off the upright.
Thomas LePage tossed a 45-yard pass to Tucker Horak for the Gorillas in the first quarter, and Pittsburg State set up on the Arkansas Tech 25-yard line.
The Wonder Boys’ defense held and forced a field goal attempt. The 44-yard attempt was short, and the Gorillas remained scoreless.
Justin Bailey caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Reasnor as the Wonder Boys took a 16-0 lead.
Allen broke free early in the second quarter on a 25-yard TD run to put Arkansas Tech up 23-0.
The Gorillas responded on the next possession when Rose found the end zone from 14 yards out to make it 23-7.
After trading possessions, the Wonder Boys drove down the field and capped their drive with an Allen 2-yard touchdown run. The place holder, Clayton Watson, fumbled the snap, picked up the ball, and ran it in for a 2-point conversion to give Arkansas Tech a commanding 31-7 advantage.
With just over a minute left in the second, Pittsburg State received the kickoff and drove down the field on the arm of quarterback Roderique.
Roderique threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Brendon Franklin to cap the quick drive and give the Gorillas momentum going into halftime. The Wonder Boys went into the locker room up 31-14.
Pittsburg State and Arkansas Tech each finished the season at 8-4.