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PSU Looks for Third Straight Win @ Lindenwood - KOAM TV 7

PSU Looks for Third Straight Win @ Lindenwood

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RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:

PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will travel to St. Charles, Mo., Saturday (Sept. 24) to face MIAA rival Lindenwood University. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. (CDT) at LWU's Hunter Stadium.

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, is 2-1 on the season.  The Gorillas have won two straight games including a 38-37 overtime victory over Northeastern State University last Saturday (Sept. 17) in Pittsburg.

Lindenwood is 1-2 on the season. The Lions are seeking to halt a two-game slide after dropping a 34-29 road decision to Washburn University last Saturday (Sept. 17). LWU also dropped a 35-31 road decision to Northeastern State on Sept. 8.

The Coaches
Tim Beck has compiled a 55-20 (.733) career record is in his seventh season as head coach at Pitt State.  

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 2012, the Gorillas opened the season 5-0 before finishing the year 7-3 overall, while in 2013 Pitt State posted the program's 20th all-time 10-win season during a 10-2 campaign.

In 2014, the Gorillas shared the MIAA regular season title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA-II playoffs during an 11-2 campaign.

Last year, a young Pitt State team battled a rash of key injuries to frontline players and the Gorillas had to settle for an uncharacteristic 6-5 season.

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 fifth meeting vs. the Lions.  He is 3-1 vs. LWU.

Lindenwood's Patrick Ross is in his 14th year leading the Lions and his 16th season as a collegiate coach. Ross (Puget Sound, '97) has compiled a 91-51 (.641) record at Lindenwood and a 105-58 (.644) overall mark. He is 1-3 vs. Pitt State.

Gorillas on the Road
Pitt State has posted a 77-24-0 (.762) record in its last 101 road games (including post-season play).

The Gorillas posted a school and MIAA record 20 straight road wins between the 2010 and 2014 seasons before dropping a 24-21 overtime decision to Minnesota State in the second round of the NCAA-II playoffs on Nov. 29, 2014.

During the last 23 years (1994-pres.), the Gorillas are an equally impressive 88-26-1 (.770) on the road.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 283 of its last 338 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 283-53-2 (.840) mark during the past 32 seasons (1985-2016). PSU is 153-20-1 at home, 126-24-1 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 10 116 times in the last 218 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 183 of 218 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season).

The Gorillas were preseason ranked among "others receiving votes" in the NCAA Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll.

The Pitt State-Lindenwood Series
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Pitt State and Lindenwood. The Gorillas lead the series, 3-1, including three straight wins by an average score of 44-14.

Last year, fifth-ranked Pitt State blocked a pair of punts during a 35-point second quarter outburst, including one the Gorillas returned for a touchdown. The scoring frenzy helped Pitt State turn a 14-7 deficit into a 42-14 advantage as the Gorillas pulled away for a 56-28 victory.

Freshman quarterback John Roderique completed 19 of 21 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns and he rushed the ball 12 times for a game-high 84 yards and two more scores leading the Gorillas offense to 429 total yards in the contest.

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program. The Gorillas, who are in their 108th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 692-339-48 overall record, winning 66.4 percent of their 1,079 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just 20 NCAA Division II institutions to have recorded 500 all-time victories and the Gorillas are just one of five schools to have reached the 600-win plateau. Tuskegee is second on the all-time list with 671 victories, followed by Hillsdale (619), Carson-Newman (616) and Central Oklahoma (609).

LWU has a 143-145-2 (.497) record in 27 seasons of intercollegiate play.

Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a "quick strike" unit.

During the last 12 seasons (2005-16), the Pitt State offense has generated 750 scoring drives (628 TDs, 122 FGs) and averaged just 2:54 of elapsed time per drive.

2005    97 scoring drives (86 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:40 elapsed time    2011    78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs)    2:54 elapsed time
2006    79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs)    2:14 elapsed time     2012    51 scoring drives (40 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:58 elapsed time
2007    64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs)    3:02 elapsed time     2013    83 scoring drives (70 TDs, 13 FGs)    2:29 elapsed time
2008    69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs)    3:23 elapsed time     2014    74 scoring drives (53 TDs, 21 FGs)    3:06 elapsed time
2009    49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs)    3:21 elapsed time     2015    50 scoring drives (41 TDs, 9 FGs)    2:53 elapsed time
2010    41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs)    3:04 elapsed time     2016    15 scoring drives (12 TDs, 3 FGs)    3:40 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates.  Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 66 times (54 TDs, 11 FGs) in the last 135 games, posting a 60-6 (.909) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 38-31 (.551) in games it doesn't score on its opening drive during the same span.

Inside The Pitt State Offense
Junior QB Thomas LePage passed for a career-high 286 yards and three touchdowns vs NSU. LePage has completed 111 of 227 passes (.489) for 1,343 yards and 10 TDs in 19 career games. The Jefferson City, Mo., native also has 137 rushes for 337 yards and three TDs. He carried the ball 17 times for a career-high 78 yards and a TD against the RiverHawks.  LePage currently ranks fifth in the MIAA in passing (247.0 ypg) and total offense (292.3 ypg).

Senior WR Levi Copelin has posted three straight 100-yard receiving games to open the season. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native made nine catches for a career-high 191 yards and a TD against UCM. He followed that up with six catches for 114 yards and a TD against UCO; and Copelin had six grabs for 100 yards and a career-high three TDs vs NSU.  He currently leads the MIAA and ranks fifth in NCAA Division II in receiving yards (135.0 ypg).  For his career, Copelin has 52 receptions for 908 yards (17.5 ypc) and nine scores.

Senior RB Dre Holman made his third career start for the Gorillas – his first since the 2014 season – vs NSU. The Oklahoma City native carried the ball a career-high 13 times for 47 yards and scored on a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter. For his career, Holman has rushed the ball 153 times for 627 yards (4.1 ypc) and four scores.

Junior OL Bo Farrow has started 27 consecutive games at center for the Gorillas dating back to the start of the 2014 season. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native is a two-time All-MIAA selection. The next most experienced Pitt State offensive lineman – junior Ryan Cipriani – has 12 career starts for the Gorillas.

Senior PK Chad Levin has converted three of five field goal tries on the season. The Tulsa, Okla., native has now converted 12 of 17 (.706) career field goal attempts and 51 of 53 PAT tries. Levin has scored 87 career points.

Inside The Pitt State Defense
Senior LB Spencer Brown was credited with nine tackles (four solo) in week three action vs. NSU. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native was named the MIAA Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts vs. UCO in week two when he made nine tackles and returned an interception for the game-sealing touchdown. He now has compiled 235 career tackles (103 solo) with 20.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 QB sacks as well as nine PBUs and one interception.

Senior S Deron Washington made six stops (two solo) against NSU and blocked a 37-yard first-quarter field goal attempt by the RiverHawks. The Raymore, Mo., native now has 227 career tackles (116 solo) with 8.5 TFLs and 19 pass break-ups. Washington needs six more PBUs to break into Pitt State's top five list in career PBUs.

Senior DE Heath Wilson enjoyed a solid outing against the RiverHawks last Saturday. The Wagoner, Okla., native made seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss, in the contest. A two-time All-MIAA performer and an All-America selection in 2014, Wilson has made 134 career tackles (43 solo) with 30.0 tackles-for-loss and 16.5 quarterback sacks.

Senior CB Tyree Jefferson made a career-best three pass break-ups in the Gorillas' last outing against NSU. The Philadelphia, Pa., native has seven tackles (six solo) and a team-leading four PBUs on the season.He has compiled 30 tackles (27 solo) with an interception and 10 PBUs in 14 career games at PSU.

Freshman DT Simanu'a Thomas continues to make an immediate impact in his rookie season. The Independence, Mo., native tackled NSU running back Deion Tidwell in the end zone for a safety last Saturday. He made five tackles (three solo) with 2.0 TFLs and 1.0 quarterback sack in the contest. Thomas has 11 tackles (seven solo) with 3.0 TFLs and 2.0 quarterback sacks thus far.

Sophomore Carter Anchors has punted 13 times for a 44.9-yard average on the season with a long punt of 63 yards vs. NSU. The Kansas City, Mo., native leads the MIAA and ranks eighth in NCAA Division II early in the season in punting average.

Junior Austin Panko has averaged 17.7 yards on awvwn punt returns on the young season. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native ranks second in the MIAA and 10th in NCAA Division II in punt returns to date.

Scouting the Lions
Sophomore quarterback Mason Bendigo directs the LWU offense. Bendigo (6-5, 233) has completed 53 of 97 passes (.546) for 587 yards (195.7 ypg) and five touchdowns. He has been intercepted eight times.

Backup quarterback Allen Thigpen also has completed 21 of 25 passes (.840) for 164 yards and two touchdowns

Junior wide receivers Kendell Sparks and Deantrell Prince has been the Lions primary targets. Sparks (5-8, 175) has caught a team-leading 29 passes for 232 yards (8.0 ypc) and four TDs, while Prince (5-11, 213) has 25 grabs for 228 yards (9.1 ypc) and two scores.

Senior running back Calen Campbell (5-9, 185) has rushed the ball 56 times for 273 yards (4.9 ypc) and one score.

Senior linebacker Connor Harris leads the LWU defense with 37 tackles (21 solo) with 3.0 tackles-for-loss. Harris (6-0, 243) needs 18 more stops to set the NCAA all division tackles record. He has 532 career tackles.

The Lions are averaging 36.3 points and 436.0 total yards per game (250.3 passing), while the LWU defense is allowing 31.7 points and 470.3 total yards (323.7 passing).

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