No. 21 Gorillas run past Riverhawks, 45-6

Carla Wehmeyer/Pittsburg State University
By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Sep 7, 2013

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What a night.


The Pittsburg State Gorillas scored on their first two possessions, added two more first-half touchdowns and watched their defense render Northeastern State punchless as PSU held a comfortable 28-0 lead at halftime of Saturday night’s season opener at a jam-packed Carnie Smith Stadium.


Then, Jeff Seybold broke the game open on PSU’s first play of the second half with an 80-yard run that gave the Gorillas a 35-0 lead with 12:32 left in the third quarter.


And it was all over but the shouting, which the crowd of 10,374 provided in abundance.

Those red-clad fans watched Pitt State rout the Riverhawks 45-6.


For PSU linebacker Nate Dreiling, opening the season at home for the first time in his career was something special.


“Finally, we got a home-opener,” Dreiling said. “I’ve been here four years and we hadn’t had one yet. The atmosphere was just electric, and we couldn’t have asked for anything better.”


The Gorillas marched 74 yards on seven plays on the opening drive -- including a 38-yard run by Seybold -- before redshirt freshman Steven Sullivan ran in from four yards out for a 7-0 lead.


PSU quarterback Anthony Abenoja and Gavin Lutman connected for a pair of touchdowns -- an 18-yarder with 3:30 left in the first quarter and a 28-yarder midway through the second period.


Abenoja ended the first half with a 23-yard scoring pass to Luke Rampy to give the Gorillas their 28-0 halftime lead.


The Gorillas defense held solid on NSU’s opening drive of the second half, and then PSU took over at its own 20. Seybold busted through the line and never looked back, outrunning everyone to the end zone.


“That’s all o-line right there,” Seybold said. “That’s good blocking right there. It felt good.”


When asked in the post-game press conference what he saw on that play, Seybold grinned and said. “Open field.”


PSU head coach Tim Beck agreed with Seybold’s assessment, calling it a beautifullly-blocked play, then added, “Heck, I was barely turned around and I saw him taking off and going. It was just a little power play and they did a very good job of blocking it. It was very nice to see him take it all the way to the house.


On Pitt’s next drive, the Gorillas drove to the NSU 24 before sputtering and setting up a 43-yard field goal attempt that Connor Frazell put through the south uprights.


Abenoja ended his night with a 17-yard touchdown run with 13:17 left in the game. He finished with 228 passing yards on 18-of-24 passing -- including three touchdowns and 86 yards on the ground with another score.


Seybold led the way for the Pitt State rushing attack with 132 yards, while John Brown had a quiet six-catch, 78-yard night. But with all the attention defenses will have to pay to Brown, Beck said the offense will benefit.


“Everybody’s going to be aware of who and where John’s at, and that’s kind of opens things up for the other guys and they took advantage of it,” Beck said.


Indeed, Lutman finished the night with 71 yards on four catches and a pair of scores, while Rampy snared another touchdown pass. Overall, six receivers caught balls on Saturday night.


NSU broke Pitt State’s shutout bid when with backup quarterback Thor Long plunged in from the 1 with 9:51 remaining. Long’s run was set up when he hit Jordan Robinson for 45 yards to the PSU 2 yard line. The Gorillas last shutout came on Nov. 10, 2007, when they routed Emporia State 62-0.


Despite the disappointment of not pitching a shutout, the Gorilla defense was outstanding. Sure, the Riverhawks hit a couple of big plays against the second-string defense. But, at the end of the third quarter, PSU’s regular D had held Northeastern State to only 154 yards of total offense. The Riverhawks finished the game with 244 yards -- compared to PSU’s 582 yards.


And while the mood after the contest was definitely positive -- how could it not be? -- it was telling that one of the undisputable leaders of the team started out his interview with a criticism of sorts.


“We played well. There were a couple of times they broke some runs on us, but I thought it was one of the better games we’ve played on the whole, not just on defense.


“We feel like we have the talent, we just need to come together and make the plays.”


When the Gorillas fell on hard times in 2009 and 2010, Dreiling would constantly tell the assembled media that this was not Gorilla football. He had seen Gorilla football. He had come here because of Gorilla football. What he saw during that time was most definitely not Gorilla football.


And, with three outstanding seasons, Dreiling has helped re-establish -- and maybe redefine -- what Gorilla football is.


A 45-6 win in front of a huge, screaming crowd at Carnie Smith Stadium seems about as Gorilla football as it gets. Now Pitt State will be taking its show on the road as the Gorillas will travel to Edmond, Okla. to take on Central Oklahoma next Saturday at 6 p.m.


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