Gorillas to Face #11 FHSU Saturday - KOAM TV 7

Gorillas to Face #11 FHSU Saturday



PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will travel to Hays, Kan., Saturday (Oct. 7) for an MIAA match-up against unbeaten and No. 11 ranked Fort Hays State University.Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (CDT) at Lewis Field Stadium.

Pitt State enters Saturday's contest with a 2-3 record. The Gorillas are seeking to become the first Division II team to reach 700 all-time victories with a victory over the Tigers. Only 32 schools across all divisions of the NCAA have eclipsed 700 all-time wins.

The Gorillas are seeking to halt a two-game losing streak. Pitt State dropped a 35-20 decision to Washburn University last Saturday (Sept. 30) and a 45-11 decision to Lindenwood University on Sept. 23.

FHSU is 5-0 on the season, tied atop the MIAA standings (with No. 1 ranked Northwest Missouri) and ranked No. 11 in this week's AFCA NCAA Division II Top 25 poll. The Tigers claimed a 38-35 road win over Lindenwood last Saturday (Sept. 30) at St. Charles, Mo.

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his eighth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 62-26 (.705) career record.  

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

In 2015, 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. Last year, the Gorillas battled key injuries once again and Pitt State posted a 7-4 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 sixth meeting vs. FHSU. He is 3-2 vs. the Tigers.

Chris Brown is in his sixth season as head coach at FHSU. Brown (Pitt State, 1996) has compiled a 43-29-0 (.597) record leading the Tigers. Brown, a three-time All-America free safety for the Gorillas from 1993-95, came to FHSU after serving as defensive coordinator at Washburn from 2002-10. This will be his sixth meeting vs. his alma mater. Brown is 2-3 vs. Pitt State.

The Pitt State-Fort Hays State Series
This will be the 76th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Tigers in a series that dates all the way back to the 1915 season.

Pitt State holds a commanding 46-20-9 advantage in the series. The Gorillas are 22-10-6 vs. the Tigers at Hays all-time, with an 11-0-1 mark since 1979. Pitt State is 20-2-1 in its last 23 overall meetings against Fort Hays State.

Last year, Jacob Mezera completed 31 of 38 passes for 446 yards and five touchdowns to lead visiting FHSU to a 54-41 victory over Pitt State on Oct. 8, spoiling the Gorillas Homecoming in front of 10,238 partisan fans at Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium.

Pitt State had leads of 7-3 and 14-10 in the first quarter, but FHSU took a 24-20 advantage at the half. The Tigers stretched their lead to 38-20 with a pair of third-quarter scores and the FHSU lead ballooned to 48-27 with 13:40 to play.

John Roderique competed 27 of 43 pases for 301 yards and four touchdowns for the Gorillas. He tossed a pair of TD passes to Brenner Clemons, who had 11 grabs for 138 yards. Michael Rose also carried the ball 14 times for 139 yards, including an 84-yard scoring scamper.

Charles Tigner caught eight passes for 160 yards and a pair of scores for the Tigers, while Shaquille Cooper added seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Mezera added 62 rushing yards on eight carries including a TD run. Brandon Brown booted four field goals for FHSU, connecting from 19, 37, 38 and 49 yards in the contest.

Matt Magee made a career-high 14 tackles in the game for the Gorillas, while Deron Washington added 11 stops..

Gorillas on the Road
Pitt State has posted an 82-26-0 (.757) record in its last 108 road games (including post-season play). The Gorillas are 29-5 (.853) in their last 34 road games dating back to Oct. 23, 2010.

Pitt State 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 24 years (1994-pres.), the Gorillas are an equally impressive 93-28-1 (.766) on the road.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 290 of its last 351 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 290-59-2 (.829) mark during the past 33 seasons (1985-2017). PSU is 155-24-1 at home, 131-26-1 on the road and 4-9-0 at neutral sites in the regular season during that span.

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program. The Gorillas, who are in their 110th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 699-345-48 overall record, winning 66.2 percent of their 1,092 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just five NCAA Division II institutions to have recorded 600 all-time victories and the Gorillas are bidding to become just the 33rd program across all levels of college football to reach the 700-win plateau.

Tuskegee is second on the Division II all-time list with 680 victories, followed by Hillsdale (625), Carson-Newman (621) and Central Oklahoma (619).

FHSU has a 455-463-44 (.496) record in 102 seasons of intercollegiate play.

Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a "quick strike" unit. During the last 13 seasons (2005-17), the Pitt State offense has generated 809 scoring drives (673 TDs, 136 FGs) and averaged just 2:54 of elapsed time per drive.

2005    97 scoring drives (86 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:40 elapsed time    2012    51 scoring drives (40 TDs, 11 FGs)    2:58 elapsed time    
2006    79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs)    2:14 elapsed time     2013    83 scoring drives (70 TDs, 13 FGs)    2:29 elapsed time
2007    64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs)    3:02 elapsed time     2014    74 scoring drives (53 TDs, 21 FGs)    3:06 elapsed time
2008    69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs)    3:23 elapsed time     2015    50 scoring drives (41 TDs, 9 FGs)    2:53 elapsed time
2009    49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs)    3:21 elapsed time     2016    60 scoring drives (48 TDs, 12 FGs)    2:54 elapsed time
2010    41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs)    3:04 elapsed time     2017    21 scoring drives (14 TDs, 7 FGs)    3:08 elapsed time
2011    78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs)    2:54 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 71 times (60 TDs, 11 FGs) in the last 148 games, posting a 63-8 (.887) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 42-35 (.545) in games it doesn't score on its opening drive during the same span.

Inside The Pitt State Offense / Defense
Senior running back Michael Rose rushed for 101 yards against Washburn last week. The Albuquerque, N.M., native has 77 carries for 371 yards (4.8 ypc) on the season, averaging 92.8 rushing yards per game. He currently ranks third in the MIAA in rushing yards. For his career, Rose has gained 1,629 yards on 311 carries (5.2 ypc) with 14 touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Austin Panko has amassed 93 career receptions for 1,425 yards (15.3 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. The Lee's Summit, Mo., entered the Gorillas' all-time top 10 list for receiving yards following the Washburn game last week.  Bryan Pray (2005-06) is currently ninth on the list with 80 grabs for 1,510 yards. Panko also broke into Pitt State's top 10 list for career receptions against NSU on Sept. 16.  His 93 receptions currently ranks seventh all-time at PSU – he needs four receptions to climb to No. 6 on the list.

Sophomore safety Josh Hornback recorded his second blocked punt of the season for the Gorillas against Washburn last week – the fourth blocked punt by a Pitt State defender on the year. The Wichita, Kan., native also made a team-leading eight tackles against the Ichabods, raising his team-leading tackle total to 36 (22 solo).

Sophomore placekicker Jared Vincent has converted seven of eight field goals (.875) and 15 of 17 PAT tries (.882) on the season, scoring a team-leading 36 points (7.2 ppg). Vincent ranks third in the MIAA in field goals (1.4 pg) and second in the conference in field goal percentage.  The Claremore, Okla., native ranks seventh in the MIAA in scoring – second in the league in kick scoring.

Scouting the Tigers
Junior quarterback Jacob Mezera directs the FHSU offense. Mezera (6-5, 205) has completed 112 of 160 passes (.700) for 1,379 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions. He ranks fourth in the MIAA in passing yards (275.8 ypg) and second in the league in passing efficiency (163.4 rating).

Senior running back Kenneth Iheme (5-8, 180) has rushed the ball 91 times for a team-leading 477 yards (5.2 ypc) and six touchdowns, ranking second in the MIAA in rushing (95.4 ypg) and fourth in the conference in scoring (8.4 ppg).

Junior wide receiver Monterio Burchfield (6-2, 210) has caught 24 passes for 498 yards (20.8 ypc) and six scores, while senior wide receiver Tyler Bacon (5-11, 175) has 24 grabs for 180 yards (7.5 ypc).

The FHSU offense is averaging 36.6 points and 462.6 total yards (291.8 passing).

Junior linebacker José Delgado (5-11, 200) has made a team-leading 38 tackles (22 solo) with 4.5 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 quarterback sacks in four games played, while senior defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd (6-5, 300) has posted 17 tackles (nine solo) with a team-leading 5.5 tackles-for-loss to date.

As a unit, the FHSU defense is allowing a scant 15.8 points and 241.8 total yards (61.0 rushing) per game. The Tigers rank 19th in Division II in scoring defense and second nationally in rushing defense.

Senior Brandon Brown (6-1, 200) has converted five of seven field goals on the season and all 24 of his PAT tries, while sophomore Dante Brown (5-10, 180) has punted 21 times for a Division II and MIAA-leading 45.7-yard average with six kicks inside the opponent 20 yard line.

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