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No. 12 Gorillas Look to Bounce Back at No. 4 Griffons Saturday - KOAM TV 7

No. 12 Gorillas Look to Bounce Back at No. 4 Griffons Saturday

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The Pittsburg State University football team, the No. 12 ranked team in NCAA Division II, will travel to St. Joseph, Mo., to face No. 4 Missouri Western State University in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play Saturday (Oct. 26).

Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. (CDT) at MWSU's Spratt Memorial Stadium.

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, brings a 6-1 record, including a 5-1 mark in MIAA play, into Saturday's contest. The Gorillas lost a hard-fought 24-15 decision against No. 2 ranked Northwest Missouri State University last Saturday (Oct. 19) in The Fall Classic at Arrowhead XII.

MWSU, the defending MIAA champion, is 7-0 overall and 6-0 in conference play to date. The Griffons rallied from a 21-17 deficit to defeat Missouri Southern, 35-21, last Saturday (Oct. 19) at Joplin, Mo.  The Griffons have averaged a 51-21 victory over their last four opponents.

The Coaches
Tim Beck has compiled a 32-11 (.744) career record in his fourth season as head coach at Pitt State.  
Beck led his alma mater (PSU, '88) to the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship two seasons ago, earning national coach of the year honors from Liberty Mutual, the Don Hansen Football Committee and FieldTurf™.

Beck became the school's 14th all-time head football coach in December 2009, after serving for 23 seasons as an assistant coach for the Gorillas including 16 years as the team's offensive coordinator from 1994-2009.

In his first season leading the Gorillas, Beck guided Pitt State to a 6-6 record and a victory in the 2010 Mineral Water Bowl.  In 2011, Beck led the Gorillas to the program's second NCAA national championship and the school's fourth national title overall in a 13-1 campaign. Pitt State captured the MIAA Championship and ultimately the NCAA-II National Championship with a 35-21 victory over Wayne (Mich.) State on Dec. 17, 2011.

Last year, the Gorillas opened the season 5-0 before finishing the year 7-3 overall.

During his 16 seasons as offensive coordinator, the Gorilla offense consistently ranked among the finest units in NCAA Division II.

In 2008, Beck was selected the inaugural NCAA Division II Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com, following a vote of his coaching peers.

In 2004, Beck's offensive unit established itself as the most prolific squad in the history of NCAA football.  PSU shattered a 118-year-old scoring record, scoring an amazing 837 points (55.8 ppg).  His squad also set the NCAA all division records for rushing (5,320 yards) and total offense (8,976 yards).

Beck's teams led Division II in scoring in two of the last six years (2004, 2006) and ranked in the top two nationally in total offense three times in the last six seasons (2004, 2005, 2006).  His squads ranked among the national rushing leaders every season, leading Division II in 1995 (318.8 ypg) and 2004 (354.7 ypg).  Beck's "multiple choice" option attack also compiled 16,483 passing yards (216.9 ypg) and 143 aerial touchdowns during the last six years.

Pitt State averaged a staggering 38.8 points and 442.5 yards of total offense per game during his tenure as offensive coordinator.

Prior to assuming the offensive coordinator's role, Beck served two years as Pitt State's defensive coordinator (1992-93).  He became a full-time assistant on the Pitt State staff in 1989, after serving first as a student assistant (1987) and then as a graduate assistant (1988).

This will be Beck's fourth meeting vs. Missouri Western. He is 1-2 vs. the Griffons.

MWSU's Jerry Partridge is in his 17th year leading the Griffons. Partridge (Missouri Western, '85) has compiled a 131-64 (.672) record while leading his alma mater. He is 7-9 vs. Pitt State.

The Pitt State-Missouri Western Series
This will be the 38th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and Griffons in a series that dates back to the 1970 season.  Pitt State holds a 27-10 (.730) advantage in the series, including a 13-6 record against MWSU at St. Joseph, Mo.

The Gorillas are 4-2 against the Griffons at St. Joseph since 2001, including a 34-7 victory the last time the two squads met at Spratt Stadium on Sept. 1, 2011. The visiting team has won five of the last seven meetings in the series.

Last year, Missouri Western claimed a 63-14 victory over the Gorillas in Pittsburg on Oct. 20, 2012.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 261 of its last 309 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 262-45-2 (.851) mark during the past 29 seasons (1985-2013). PSU is 143-14-1 at home, 113-22-1 on the road and 4-9-0 at neutral sites in the regular season during that span.

Pitt State in the AFCA Top 25 Poll
Pitt State has been ranked in Division II's top 10 100 times in the last 185 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 159 of 185 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season).

Gorillas on the Road
Pitt State has posted a 65-21-0 (.756) record in its last 86 road games (including post-season play).  The Gorillas are 76-23-1 (.765) on the road since the start of the 1994 season.

Western has posted a 41-12 (.774) record in home games since 2005. The Griffons are 9-1 in their last 10 home games overall.

All-Time Winningest Football Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program.  The Gorillas, who are in their 105th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 669-330-48 overall record, winning 66.2 percent of their 1,047 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just 18 NCAA Division II institutions to have recorded 500 all-time victories and the Gorillas are just one of three schools to have reached the 600-win plateau.  Tuskegee is second on the all-time list with 646 victories, followed by Hillsdale (607), Central Oklahoma (592) and Texas A&M-Kingsville (590).

Ground Game PSU's Bread and Butter…
Pitt State's success can be directly linked to its ability to rush the football.

Since the 1986 season, PSU has rushed for 200-plus yards in 281 of 336 overall games.  The Gorillas have posted a 250-30-1 (.888) record when they eclipse 200 yards rushing.  Pitt State is an even more impressive 137-6-0 (.958) when it eclipses 300 yards rushing.

By contrast, PSU is just 25-31-1 (.447) in the handful of games when it has been held below 200 yards rushing.

Since 1986, PSU has rushed the ball for the highest yardage total among all NCAA Division II programs, with 96,565 yards (including postseason competition) for an average of 287.4 yards per game.

The Gorillas currently rank 23rd nationally in rushing, averaging 234.9 yards per game on the ground. Pitt State has rushed the ball 319 times for 1,644 yards (5.2 ypc) and 20 touchdowns on the season.

… But Don't Overlook PSU Passing Attack
While it's no secret Pitt State's offensive success has been predicated on running the football, the Gorillas have unleashed a potent passing attack to compliment their stalwart running game.

Since the start of the 2004 season, the Gorillas have passed for 24,884 yards and 186 TDs, averaging 228.3 passing yards and 1.7 touchdown passes per game in the last 109 outings.

In 2012, quarterback Tony Abenoja established a new single-season passing record, averaging 233.0 passing yards per game.  Also, against Lincoln on Sept. 28 Abenoja established new school single game records for passing yards (442), passing touchdowns (5) and total offense (463 yards).

The Gorillas have averaged 271.4 passing yards in their first seven games with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions.
    
Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a "quick strike" unit.

During the last nine seasons (2005-13), the Pitt State offense has generated 574 scoring drives (491 TDs, 83 FGs) and averaged just 2:52 of elapsed time per drive. [Overtime scoring drives not included in elapsed time figures.]

2005    97 scoring drives (86 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:40 elapsed time
2006    79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs)    2:14 elapsed time        
2007    64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs)    3:02 elapsed time
2008    69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs)    3:23 elapsed time        
2009    49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs)    3:21 elapsed time    
2010    41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs)    3:04 elapsed time
2011    78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs)    2:54 elapsed time
2012    51 scoring drives (40 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:58 elapsed time
2013    46 scoring drives (39 TDs, 7 FGs)    2:49 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates.  Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 50 times (42 TDs, 8 FGs) in the last 103 games, posting a 47-3 (.940) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 28-25 (.528) in games it doesn't score on its opening drive during the same span.

Pitt State Displays Prolific Offense
The Pitt State offense has asserted itself as one of the top units in NCAA Division II the past 10 seasons (2004-13).

Pitt State's high octane "multiple choice" offense ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 nationally in both scoring and total offense in three of the last seven seasons.

In 2004, PSU staked its claim as the most prolific offense in the history of NCAA football, leading Division II in scoring (55.8 ppg), rushing (354.7 ypg) and total offense (598.4 ypg).

Pitt State broke the NCAA's 118-year-old all-time all division scoring record with 837 points, besting the old mark of 765 points set by Harvard in 1886.  The Gorillas also broke the all-time NCAA all division records for rushing (5,320 yards) and total offense (8,976 yards) in 2004.

Oklahoma set the previous rushing record (5,196 yards) in 1971, and Texas Tech held the previous total offense mark (7,576 yards) in 2003.

In 2005, Pitt State ranked second nationally in scoring and total offense, averaging 46.8 points and 536.0 total yards per game.  The Gorillas also ranked seventh nationally in rushing, averaging 295.2 yards a game.

In 2006, Pitt State led NCAA Division II in scoring and ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense, averaging 44.8 points and 454.8 total yards per game in 2006.

In 2007, the Gorillas ranked 21st nationally in scoring and 19th nationally in total offense, averaging 37.4 points and 454.2 total yards per game. In 2008, Pitt State ranked 18th nationally in scoring (35.5 ppg) and 21st in the nation in total offense (432.6 ypg).

In 2009, the Pitt State offense averaged 29.4 points and 434.4 total yards per game, while the Gorillas averaged 22.8 points and 357.7 total yards per game in 2010.

In 2011, the Gorillas ranked sixth nationally in scoring (40.2 ppg) and 19th in the country in total offense (448.5 ypg). In 2012, the Gorillas ranked 24th nationally in total offense (454.4 ypg) and 27th in the country in rushing offense (204.6 ypg).

This season, Pittsburg State is currently ranked 16th nationally in scoring (43.1 ppg), 23rd nationally in rushing offense (234.9 ypg) and 16th in total offense (506.3 ypg).

Dreiling Climbs Career Tackles Chart
Junior linebacker Nate Dreiling continues to climb both the Pitt State and MIAA career tackles charts. Dreiling (6-4, 228) has posted double-digit tackles in 26 of 43 career games for the Gorillas.

The Hutchinson/Victoria, Kan., native now has 446 (10.4 pg) career tackles. He needs 25 stops to become PSU's all-time tackles leader.  Dreiling trails only former All-American Chris Brown (470) on the career list.

Dreiling also needs five tackles to take over seventh place on the MIAA's all-time tackle chart and he can climb as high as fourth on the list with 14 tackles. Truman's Marti Rave (1977-79) holds the MIAA career tackle mark (489).

For the season, Dreiling has made 64 tackles with 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.0 quarterback sack, an interception and three pass breakups.

PSU Career Tackles    Total    MIAA Career Tackles    Total
    1.    Chris Brown, 1992-95    470        1.    Marti Rave, Truman, 1977-79    489
    2.    Nate Dreiling, 2011-pres.    446        2.    Zach Watkins, WU, 2006-09    473
                    
                    4.    Grant Gould, WU, 2002-05    459
                    5.    Robert Newhart, MWSU, 1979-82    456
                    6.    John Harvey, MSU 1978-81    452
                  7.     Dave Svehla, NWMSU, 187-90    450
                    8.    Nate Dreiling, Pitt State, 2011-pres.    446

Abenoja Ranks Fifth in Nation in Passing Efficiency
Junior quarterback Tony Abenoja currently ranks fifth in NCAA Division II with a 176.9 passer rating.  He also ranks 18th nationally in completion percentage (.659) and 16th in points responsible for (18.6 ppg).

Abenoja (6-3, 210) has completed 122 of 185 passes for 1,856 yards (265.1 ypg) and 18 touchdowns with five interceptions.  The Overland Park, Kan., native also has rushed the ball 69 times for 227 yards (3.3 ypc) and three touchdowns.

Abenoja established a trio of new Pitt State single game records against Lincoln, passing for 442 yards with five touchdowns and compiling 463 yards of total offense

For his career, Abenoja has completed 306 of 465 passes (.658) for 4,450 yards and 36 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.  He's also rushed 162 times for 439 yards (2.7 ypc) and six TDs, compiling 4,889 yards of total offense. Abenoja already ranks fifth on PSU's career passing yards and sixth in career passing touchdowns lists.

He also improved to 13-4 (.765) as the Gorillas starting quarterback.

Brown Continues to Make History
Senior wide receiver/return specialist John Brown captured Pitt State's all-time receiving record with a nine-catch, 237-yard performance in the Gorillas' game against Lincoln on Sept. 28.

Brown (5-11, 170) scored five total touchdowns in the contest to tie the PSU single game scoring record (30 points) and he compiled 294 all-purpose yards, earning MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
His 237-yard receiving total ranks second on Pitt State's single game chart and fifth in MIAA single game history.

The Homestead, Fla., native now holds both the Pitt State career receptions record (166) and the Pitt State career receiving yards mark (2,956 yards). He passed Ronnie West, the only wide receiver in Division II history to win the Harlon Hill Trophy in 1991, atop the list, in his 28th game – the same number of games West played in 1990-91.

Brown now needs 94 yards to carve his name in the MIAA career receiving top 10 list.

For the season, Brown has 42 catches for 767 yards (18.3 ypc) and nine touchdowns, averaging 109.6 receiving yards per game.

PSU Career Receiving    G    Rec    Yards    YPG                
    1.    John Brown, 2011-pr.    31    166    2956    95.4         
    2.    Ronnie West, 1990-91    28    123    2521    90.0                 
                                   
MIAA Career Receiving    Rec    Yards
    1.    Jamaica Rector, NW, 2001-04    289    4497
    9.    Michael Dritlein, WU, 1992-95    170    3103
10.        Andre Rector, NW, 2002-05    213    3049
        John Brown, PSU, 2011-pres.    166    2956

PSU Career All-Purpose    Rush    Rec    PR    KR    Yards
    1.    Ronald Moore, 1989-92    5776    318    0    1084    7178

    3.    Monte Weathers, 1984-87    3852    295    686    1932    6764    
    4.    John Brown, 2011-pr.    337    2957    956    1227    5477

Scouting the Griffons
Western enters Saturday's match-up with a 7-0 record and  a 6-0 mark in MIAA play. The fourth-ranked Griffons have defeated their last four opponents by an average score of 51-21. Last week, MWSU defeated Missouri Southern, 35-21, at Joplin, Mo.

As a team, the Griffons are averaging 442.1 yards per game of total offense, including 206.9 yards per game through the air and 235.3 yards per game on the ground. The Griffons also are averaging 46.3 points per game through their first seven contests.

Sophomore running back Raphael Spencer (5-9, 190) has paced the Griffons rushing attack with 866 yards on 119 (7.3 ypc) carries with nine touchdowns through the first seven games. The Kansas City, Mo., native rushed for a season-high 221 yards and caught four passes for 41 yards against Central Oklahoma on Oct. 5. Spencer currently leads the MIAA in rushing.

Senior quarterback Travis Partridge (6-4, 230) has completed 108 of 187 (.578) passes for 1,404 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Against Southern last week, the St. Joseph, Mo., native completed 15 of 28 pass attempts for 244 yards and three touchdowns, including a 99-yard strike to put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore wide receiver Stephon Weaver (6-2, 190) has been the go-to receiver to date. The Tulsa, Okla., native has caught 24 passes for 259 yards and five touchdowns.

Missouri Western's defense is led by junior linebacker Stephen Juergens (5-11, 205). The Kearney, Mo., native has recorded 56 tackles, including 3.5 tackles-for-loss with one interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery.

All four members of the Griffon secondary currently have two interceptions, helping the team lead NCAA Division II in turnover margin (+18).  

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