Pitt State faces first road test at Central Oklahoma

By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Sep 13, 2013

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A week ago, the Pittsburg State Gorillas came out in front of a sellout crowd at Carnie Smith Stadium and pounded the Northeastern State Riverhawks 45-6 in their season-opener.


This week, they will take their act on the road as they drive south to take on the Central Oklahoma Bronchos Saturday night at 6 p.m.


It likely will be a different atmosphere than it was when 10,374 filed in to watch the Gorillas open the season in convincing fashion. That win helped propel PSU to a No. 16 ranking in the AFCA poll.


Awaiting the Gorillas in Edmond, Okla., is a team that struggled through their first season in the MIAA -- winning just two games -- and dropped its season-opener to Missouri Southern, 52-38


But that doesn’t mean they are to be taken lightly.


In fact, when PSU receiver Gavin Lutman was asked about matching Southern’s point total, Lutman said, “I’m confident in our team to do what we’ve got to do to get a win. The amount of points? I can’t speak to that. But I’m confident that we’ll do what it takes to win.”


The Bronchos’ main threat comes in the form of senior running back Joshua Birmingham, an All-MIAA performer a year ago who rushed for 169 yards and four touchdowns against Southern. Birmingham broke the 1,000-yard mark a year ago, and was the only player in NCAA Division II to score four touchdowns last week.


“No doubt, he’s the man that makes them go,” said PSU head coach Tim Beck. “They aren’t complex offensively, but what they do, they do pretty darn good. He’s tough to tackle, he’s physical and he’s fast.”.


Stopping Birmingham and making the Bronchos throw the ball will be key for the Gorillas defense. Senior quarterback Adrian Nelson only completed 16 of his 33 passes in the loss to the Lions. However, those 16 passes went for 328 yards and a touchdown.

Nelson’s favorite target is Marquez Clark, who caught four balls for 137 yards and a touchdown against Southern.


On the other hand, the Pitt State defense was lights out in last week’s opener, holding Northeastern State to just 224 yards of total offense and allowing just a single fourth-quarter touchdown.


The Gorillas have to be feeling good about their own offense, however, which racked up 582 yards of total offense last week -- including 228 yards on 18-of-24 passing by junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja. Abenoja’s favorite target, senior John Brown, caught six passes for 78 yards against Northeastern State. Brown is 255 yards shy of setting another PSU school record. He already has the most receptions in program history.


That Brown is a playmaker is no secret. However, if defenses key too much on him, Abenoja has plenty of targets to throw to. Junior Gavin Lutman caught four balls for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Luke Rampy also had a touchdown catch.


While Lutman is confident in his game, he said he knows his role.


“I’m a possession guy,” he said in reply to a reporter’s question at PSU’s weekly press conference. “I’m not going to beat anyone deep.”


Pitt State also got a breakout game from sophomore running back Jeff Seybold, who broke an 80 yard touchdown run to start the second half and rushed for 132 yards on just six carries.


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