No. 9 Gorillas Return Home to Host Lopers Saturday - KOAM TV 7

No. 9 Gorillas Return Home to Host Lopers Saturday

Press Release PSU:

The Pittsburg State University football team, the No. 9 ranked team in NCAA Division II, will return to the friendly confines of Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium to face the University of Nebraska-Kearney Saturday (Oct. 25). Kickoff for the Gorillas Hall of Fame Game is set for 2 p.m. (CDT).

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, brings a 6-1 record into Saturday's action. The Gorillas knocked off previously unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Northwest Missouri State University last Saturday (Oct. 18) at Maryville, Mo.

Nebraska-Kearney is 2-5 on the season. The Lopers enter Saturday's action on a two-game winning streak after posting a 31-13 victory over Lindenwood University last Saturday (Oct. 18) at Kearney, Neb.

Hall of Fame Ceremonies
Pittsburg State University will induct eight new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday morning (Oct. 25). The group will be hoored during enshrinement cermonies at 8:30 a.m. at the Crimson & Gold Ballroom in the Overman Student Center and recognized at halftim of the Gorillas game against Nebraska-Kearney.

The Hall of Fame class includes a pair of All-American quarterbacks in Brian Hutchins (1990-93) and Neal Philpot (2001-04) as well as two-time All-CIC performer Lon Farrell (1950-51). Additional inductees are track & field All-American Megan (Corby) Haas (1992-95), baseball All-American Daryl Cronk (1996-99), track & field standout David Shrader (1936-40) and ardent PSU boosters Alan & Roberta Whetzel.

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his fifth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 42-13 (.764) career record.  

Beck led his alma mater (PSU, '88) to the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship three 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.

In 2013, the Gorillas opened the season 5-0 before finishing the year 7-3 overall, while last year Pitt State posted the program's 20th all-time 10-win season during a 10-2 campaign.

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 first meeting vs. the Lopers.

UNK's Darrell Morris is in his 15th year leading the Lopers and his 15th year as a collegiate coach. Morris (NWMSU, '83) has compiled a 100-60 (.635) record leading UNK. He achieved his milestone 100th victory in last Saturday's 31-13 win over Lindenwood.

Saturday's game will be Morris' second meeting vs. Pitt State.  He is 0-1 against the Gorillas, dropping a 49-20 decision in the 2005 NCAA Division II national playoffs.

The Pitt State – Nebraska-Kearney Series
This will be the 17th meeting between the Gorillas and the Lopers in a series that dates back to the 1974 season, but it will be just the second meeting between the two squads since 1988.
Pitt State holds a 9-7 edge in the series with a 4-4 mark in games played in Pittsburg.

The Gorillas and Lopers met for 15 consecutive years, between 1974-88, when they were conference foes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (1974-75) and Central States Intercollegiate Conference (1976-88).
Pitt State and UNK most recently met on Nov. 12, 2005, in the first round of the NCAA-II national playoffs at Kearney, Neb. The Gorillas claimed a 49-20 victory in that game.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 271 of its last 320 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 271-47-2 (.850) mark during the past 30 seasons (1985-2014). PSU is 147-16-1 at home, 120-22-1 on the road and 4-9-0 at neutral sites in the regular season during that span.

Gorillas At Home
Pitt State holds a 337-122-12 (.728) record in 471 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 138 of their last 155 regular season home games, posting a 138-16-1 record (.894) over the last 30 seasons.

UNK is 4-10 (.286) in its last 14 road games, since joining the MIAA at the start of the 2012 season. The Lopers are 1-2 on the road this year.

Pitt State in the AFCA Top 25 Poll
Pitt State, currently the No. x team in NCAA Division II, has been ranked in Division II's top 10 108 times in the last 197 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 171 of 197 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season).

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program.  The Gorillas, who are in their 107th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 679-332-48 overall record, winning 66.4 percent of their 1,059 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just 17 NCAA Division II institutions to have recorded 500 all-time victories and the Gorillas are just one of four schools to have reached the 600-win plateau.  Tuskegee is second on the all-time list with 653 victories, followed by Hillsdale (610), Carson-Newman (602) and Central Oklahoma (599).

Playing Ahead
Pitt State has capitalized on fast starts to build several early first-quarter leads this season.

The Gorillas have scored on their opening drive in three of seven games. Pitt State has trailed in just two games this season for a total of 76 minutes, 20 seconds. The Gorillas have played in the lead in 302:07 of 420 total minutes played – an average 43:01 per game.  Pitt State has been tied or trailed for just 16:59 per game.

Pitt State Defense Leads Nation in Points, Passing yards allowed
The Pittsburg State University defense has allowed just 61 points in the Gorillas first seven games, a scant 8.7 points per game average.

Pitt State has posted two shutouts – 37-0 over Northeastern State in Pittsburg on Sept. 6 and 42-0 over Washburn at Topeka on Sept. 20 – and currently leads NCAA Division II in scoring defense.
The Gorillas last posted two shutouts in a season in 2007. That squad posted three shutouts during an 8-3 campaign.

Since joining NCAA Division II in 1989, Pitt State has recorded 33 shutouts. The Gorillas recorded one or more shutout in every year between 1989 and 2007, except 1998. No MIAA team has recorded more shutouts in the last 26 seasons (1989-2014) than Pitt State. Central Missouri has the second-most shutouts with 19, while NW Missouri State is third with 13.

This marks the 10th time since joining NCAA Division II that Pitt State has posted two or more shutouts in a season (1989, 1991, 1993-94, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2014).

In addition to leading NCAA Division II in points allowed, the Pitt State defense ranks among the nation's top squads in several statistical categories.

Pitt State ranks third nationally in third-down conversion defense (.240), fourth nationally in first down defense (88, 12.6 pg) and sixth nationally in red zone defense, allowing just seven scores in 13 opponent trips inside the Pitt State red zone (.538, 7-for-13).

Ground Game PSU's Bread and Butter…
Historically, 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 286 of 348 overall games.  The Gorillas have posted a 255-30-1 (.893) record when they eclipse 200 yards rushing.  Pitt State is an even more impressive 139-6-0 (.959) when it eclipses 300 yards rushing.

By contrast, PSU is just 30-33-1 (.477) 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 98,832 yards (including postseason competition) for an average of 284.0 yards per game.

This year, however, the Gorillas have rushed for less than 200 yards in six of their seven contests, averaging 134.1 yards per game on the ground. Pitt State defeated top-ranked Northwest Missouri, 35-17, last Saturday (Oct. 18) despite being limited to 53 rushing yards in the contest.

… But Don't Overlook Pitt State 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 28,058 yards and 216 TDs, averaging 231.9 passing yards and 1.8 touchdown passes per game in the last 121 outings.

In 2013, quarterback Anthony Abenoja established a new single-season passing record, averaging 246.2 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 averaged 247.7 passing yards with 31 touchdowns and five interceptions last year. This year, Abenoja has become the school's all-time passing yards leader (7,530) and he's averaging 283.1 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a "quick strike" unit.
During the last 10 seasons (2005-14), the Pitt State offense has generated 646 scoring drives (547 TDs, 99 FGs) and averaged just 2:36 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    2010    41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs)    3:04 elapsed time
2006    79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs)    2:14 elapsed time    2011    78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs)    2:54 elapsed time
2007    64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs)    3:02 elapsed time    2012    51 scoring drives (40 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:58 elapsed time
2008    69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs)    3:23 elapsed time    2013    83 scoring drives (70 TDs, 13 FGs)    2:29 elapsed time
2009    49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs)    3:21 elapsed time    2014    35 scoring drives (25 TDs, 10 FGs)    2:58 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates.  Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 56 times (46 TDs, 10 FGs) in the last 115 games, posting a 53-3 (.946) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 32-27 (.542) 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 11 seasons (2004-14). 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 eight 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), while the Gorillas ranked 24th nationally in total offense (454.4 ypg) and 27th in the country in rushing offense (204.6 ypg) in 2012. Last year, Pitt State ranked third nationally in scoring (46.5 ppg) and 10th in the country in total offense (499.0 ypg).

The Gorillas are averaging 32.3 points and 429.3 yards of total offense this season.

Abenoja Among Nation's Top Quarterbacks
Senior quarterback Anthony Abenoja is in his third year directing the high-powered Pitt State offense.

Abenoja (6-3, 217) has compiled a 23-6 (.793) record as the Gorillas' starter under center. The Overland Park, Kan., native became Pitt State's all-time passing leader on Sept. 11 against Lindenwood, when he completed 20 of 31 passes for 323 yards and three TDs. He garnered MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 20 when he completed 19 of 33 passes for 330 yards and four TDs against Washburn.

Abenoja also set the Pitt State career touchdown passes record (62) when he passed for 438 yards – the second-best single game passing total – and five TDs vs. Emporia State (Oct. 11).

For the season, he has completed 132 of 216 passes (.635) for 1,982 yards (283.1 ypg) and 17 touchdowns with three interceptions. He currently leads the MIAA and ranks ninth in NCAA Division II in passing efficiency with a 161.4 rating. Abenoja also leads the MIAA in passing yards (283.1 ypg) and total offense (291.4 ypg).

For his career, Abenoja has completed 499 of 814 passes (.613) for 7,530 yards and 65 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 608 net yards to compile 8,138 yards of total offense.

Abenoja has recorded four of the top five single-game passing totals in school history, including a 442-yard passing performance against Lincoln as a junior in 2013 and a 438-yard effort against Emporia State (Oct. 11). He already holds the school's career completions record, and he also ranks second on Pitt State's career total offense list with 8,138 yards.

Abenoja broke into the MIAA's all-time top 10 passing list (he's currently eighth) and he needs 372 yards to breank into the conference top 10 total offense list as well.

PSU Career Passing Yards    Comp-Att    Yards
    1.    Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr.    499-814    7530

MIAA Career Passing Yards    Comp-Att    Yards
    1.    Eric Czerniewski, UCM, 2006-10    1043-1678    12847

    6.    Adam Hinspeter, MSSU, 2005-08    842-1368    9016
    7.    Blake Bolles, NWMSU, 2007-10    662-995    8668
    8.    Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr.    499-814    7530

PSU Career Passing Touchdowns    TDs
    1.    Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr.    65

PSU Career Total Offense    Pass    Rush    Total
    1.    Neal Philpot, 2001-04    5831    4337    10168

    2.    Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr.    7530    608    8138

MIAA Career Total Offense    Pass    Rush    Total
    1.    Eric Czerniewski, UCM, 2006-10    12847    131    12978

    10.    Matt Ticich, TSU, 2006-08    7011    1498    8509
        Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr.    7530    608    8138

Cushon Showcases Versatile Skills
Junior wide receiver Marquise Cushon recorded his fifth career 100-yard receiving game – and his fourth this season – against Northwest Missouri Western on Oct. 18. The Kansas City, Mo., native caught six passes for 105 yards and a TD against the Bercats.

For the season, Cushon (5-10, 162) has a team-leading 35 catches for 655 yards (18.7 ypc) and four touchdowns.  He currently leads the MIAA and ranks 29th in NCAA Division II in receiving yards (93.6 ypg). For his career, Cushon has 58 receptions for 1,057 yards (18.3 ypc) and seven touchdowns.  He needs 206 receiving yards to break into Pitt State's all-time top 10 list.

Cushon also has 27 carries for 213 rushing yards (7.9 ypc) and he's compiled 2,022 career all-purpose yards. He has returned returned 12 punts for an 11.8-yard average, currently ranking 23rd in Division II in punt return average.

Lutman Enjoys Record-Breaking Day
Senior wide receiver Gavin Lutman set both Pitt State and MIAA single game receiving records when he caught 10 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns on Oct. 11 against Emporia State.

Lutman (6-4, 201) bested Kendall Fisher's Pitt State record of 238 receiving yards set on Oct. 17, 2009, against Emporia State. The Peculiar, Mo., native also topped the MIAA record of 254 yards set by Rod Smith of Missouri Southern on Oct. 19, 1991 against Southwest Baptist.

He followed that game up with a six-catch, 134-yard effort against Northwest Missouri last Saturday (Oct. 18).

For the season, Lutman has a team-leading 35 catches for 635 yards (18.1 ypc) and seven touchdowns. For his career, Lutman has 95 receptions for 1,507 yards (15.9 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. He climbed to seventh on PSU's career receiving yards list and he currently is fifth in career receptions.

PSU Career Receiving Yards    Rec    Yards
    1.    John Brown, 2011-13    185    3387

    5.    Marques Nelson, 2005-08    82    1582
    6.    Bryan Pray, 2005-06    80    1510
    7.    Gavin Lutman, 2010, '12-pr.    95    1507

PSU Career Receptions    Rec
    1.    John Brown, 2011-13    185

    3.    Caleb Farabi, 2005-08    101
    4.    Pierce Curran, 2004-07    97
    5.    Gavin Lutman, 2010, '12-pr.    95

Hall Garners All-MIAA Honors
Junior linebacker Colby Hall earned MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts against Northwest Missouri last Saturday (Oct. 18).

The Lamar, Mo., native made a career-high 18 tackles (two solo) in the contest as the Gorillas limited the Bearcats to 17 points and 328 total yards — NWMSU entered the game averaging an MIAA best 40.7 points and 458.7 total yards.

Hall (5-10, 196) forced a third quarter fumble that led to a 45-yard TD return by teammate Deron Washington. Two series later, he intercepted a pass to halt another Bearcat drive. For the season, Hall has made 31 tackles (seven solo) with 2.5 tackles-for-loss. He has started the last two games after senior Tyler Disney suffered a leg injury.

Frazell Steady in Kicking Game
Senior place kicker Connor Frazell has provided a steady leg to Pitt State's kicking game the past three seasons.

Frazell (6-0, 183) booted three field goals – from 25, 25 and 34 yards – in the Gorillas' 23-14 victory vs. Missouri Western on Oct. 4 to earn MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

The Iola, Kan., native established a new PSU record by making 14 consecutive field goals – he made the final 10 field goal attempts of the 2013 season and his first four tries in 2014. For the season, he has converted 10 of 16 field goals. During his three-year career, Frazell has converted 34 of 46 (.739) field goals and 135 of 138 (.978) PATs.

PSU Career Field Goals    FGs
    1.    Josh Barcus, 1995-98    44

    2.    James Jenkins, 1988-81    35
    3.    Connor Frazell, 2012-pr.    34
PSU Career Kick Scoring    Points
    1.    Nathan Alleman, 2003-06    401

    3.    Josh Barcus, 1995-98    287
    4.    Connor Frazell, 2012-pr.    237

Scouting the Lopers
Nebraska-Kearney has compiled a 2-5 record through its first seven games. The Lopers have posted back-to-back wins, including a 31-13 victory over Lindenwood University in its last action on Oct. 18 at Kearney, Neb.

The Lopers are scoring 17.7 points per game and averaging 329.1 total yards (209.7 rushing, 119.4 passing).

Junior quarterback Bronson Marsh (6-0, 200) has rushed the ball 114 times for a team-leading 616 yards (5.4 ypc) and nine touchdowns. He's also completed 83 of 167 passes (.497) for 836 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions. Marsh currently has the second-highest QB rushing total in Division II.

Junior running back Romero Cotton (5-11, 210) has carried the ball a team-leading 116 times for 518 yards (4.5 ypc) and one touchdown.

Junior wide receiver Allen Sampson (5-8, 160) has a team-leading 23 catches for 236 yards (10.3 ypc) and two TDs, while redshirt freshman wide receiver Tityus Mitchell (6-2, 185) has 12 grabs for 169 yards (14.1 ypc) and one score.

Defensively, the Lopers are allowing 27.0 points and 382.1 total yards per game (175.0 rushing, 207.1 passing).

Sophomore linebacker Tyke Kozeal (6-0, 230) has made a team-leading 88 tackles (30 solo) with 13.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 quarterback sacks.

Senior defensive end Matt Bowman (6-2, 255) has 53 stops (17 solo) with a team-leading 14.0 TFLs and 4.0 QB sacks, while redshirt freshman free safety George Brown (6-1, 185) leads the squad with two interceptions and two pass break-ups.

Freshman kicker Brendan Wentling (5-8, 160) has converted two of five field goals and 16 of 17 PATs on the season. Senior Davis Brendel (6-0, 190) has punted 48 times for a 37.8 yard average with eight kicks inside the opponent 20 yard line.
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