Pittsburg State played good old-fashioned smash mouth football and dominated the line of scrimmage for a 38-17 conference road win Saturday over Central Missouri.

Pittsburg State played good old-fashioned smash mouth football and dominated the line of scrimmage for a 38-17 conference road win Saturday over Central Missouri.

The Gorillas flexed their muscles on the ground — running for 366 yards and three scores on 57 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and devouring 36 minutes, 57 seconds from the clock. Pitt State outgained Central Missouri alone through its running game — Pitt State 366 rushing yards, Central Missouri 292 yards of total offense. Pitt State gained 521 total yards.

This win moves No. 4-ranked Pitt State to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA, with a bye week coming up before home tilts against Washburn and Missouri Southern to finish out the regular season.

“I told our kids today in pregame, ‘There’s absolutely nothing better than playing at Carnie Smith Stadium,’” Pitt State head coach Tim Beck told Eddie Lomshek of KKOW. “It’s awesome and it’s growing every week. The fans have been tremendous, but it’s also very gratifying as a coach to go into enemy territory and win a game like today. This was a huge win for us and I’m telling you, Central Missouri’s got some very talented players on both sides of the ball. Just give a lot of credit to our assistant coaches and our players for playing extremely hard today.”

Senior quarterback Zac Dickey led the way with 111 yards and two TDs (2, 10 yards) on 22 carries. Briceton Wilson gained 92 yards and scored one TD (44 yards) on 15 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. With Solomon Watkins out, Jason Spradling’s return to the lineup becomes even more important; Spradling ran for 66 yards on 11 carries. Blocking specialist Eric Love showed his ball-carrying abilities with a 49-yard gain on his only carry. Receiver John Brown added 29 yards on three carries.

Pitt State kept Central honest with its passing game, as Dickey completed 9 of 13 passes for 155 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Love caught a 27-yard TD pass from Dickey that gave the Gorillas a 24-3 lead in the second and senior receiver Jon Thomas turned what might have been a 8-yard gain into a 70-yard touchdown pass through sheer individual effort and blocking help from fellow receiver Andrew Castaneda.

“There’s a lot of kids that made some really good individual plays and I think the biggest one of the game would have been Jon Thomas’ 70-yard pass from Zac Dickey,” Beck said. “He took an unbelievable hit from two guys and he kept his balance and that’s where those good old wrestling days come in because he kept his balance and went 70 yards for a touchdown . . . an unbelievable play.”

“A couple guys hit me and I think all their force canceled out and I had two blockers there to escort me into the end zone,” Thomas told B.J. Harris of KKOW.

Thomas’ score came on a third and long play. Pitt State converted 8 of 14 third downs on the day.

Central Missouri entered averaging 352.3 yards of passing and Pitt State allowed 177 passing yards, applying constant pressure on Central Missouri quarterback Tommy Corwin without surrendering an excess of big plays, as the defensive line, linebackers and secondary all played their roles. Corwin finished 17 of 39 for 177 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

“It would be hard for anybody to hold them under 200 yards passing,” Beck said. “Coaches did a good job of rotating guys in-and-out and boy, what a great effort by our defense.”

Sophomore linebacker Nate Dreiling paced the Pitt State defense with 11 tackles and three pass breakups. Senior linebacker Luke Stringer made six tackles before cramps took him out of the lineup in the second half.

Defensive ends Gus Toca, Joe Uzzel and Spencer Worthington wreaked havoc — Toca three tackles and one sack, Uzzel four tackles and one sack and Worthington four tackles.

Safety Jason Peete made five tackles and intercepted Corwin.

Pitt State led Central 24-3 at halftime — the Mules’ only points coming on a 27-yard field goal by kicker Aaron Jamieson.

“In the first half, I thought our defense was phenomenal,” Beck said. “They just really did some good things and got to give credit to our coaches and our kids really played hard.”

Special teams helped out Pitt State — Bryant Sanchez forced a fumble on Central Missouri kick returner Anthon Kirkwood and Eric Brantley recovered the loose ball and then senior Paul Robinson blocked a Jamieson field goal attempt on the final drive of the first half.

“It was a great job by Paul of blocking that, he had great timing and great angle by him,” Beck said. “Those special teams plays are absolutely huge and I’m really proud of our effort on all our special teams.”

Northwest Missouri State defeated previously undefeated Washburn 52-28 on Saturday, leaving Pitt State as the lone unbeaten team in the MIAA.