No. 12 Gorillas must stay focused on Lincoln

By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Sep 27, 2013

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Next Saturday, the No. 12 Pittsburg State Gorillas will kick off a challenging portion of their schedule.


The Gorillas -- who have feasted on some MIAA lightweights thus far to the tune of a 3-0 record -- will host Abilene Christian next week for homecoming, then travel to Central Missouri, face No. 3 Northwest Missouri at Arrowhead and then travel to No. 6 Missouri Western.


All this makes the Gorillas’ 2 p.m. game against Lincoln today at Jefferson City, Mo., all the more important.


After three convincing wins against conference foes with a combined record of 0-9, Pitt State must take care of business against the Blue Tigers (1-2 overall, 0-2 in the MIAA) before turning their attention to the tough games looming.


For PSU head coach Tim Beck, that means scoring early and keeping the gas pedal pressed.


“Anytime you’re on the road, you’d like to start quick and get going,” Beck said. “Sometimes, on the road, you go two, three, four possessions without scoring and you look around like, ‘What’s wrong?’”


Lincoln could be a dangerous foe, considering that its sole victory came at Arrowhead against Grambling.


Looking at the numbers, though, it’s hard to see how this one could be anything different than the lopsided wins PSU has racked up so far this season. The Blue Tigers rank near the middle of the conference, offensively. Lincoln is ranked eighth in total offense, sixth in rushing offense and ninth in passing offense.


However, the Blue Tigers have a couple of individual performers who can pose problems for a defense. Running back Morris Henderson is the spark plug for Lincoln, averaging more than 101 yards a game on the ground and 218 yards a game in all-purpose yards. In fact, Henderson -- who averages 34.1 yards a kickoff return and has returned one for a touchdown -- is third in the conference in all-purpose yards, which is two spots higher than PSU standout John Brown.


“He’s a good player,” said PSU defensive lineman Joe Uzzel. “And he’s got another good running back right beside him.”


Lincoln’s passing attack is led by quarterback Jacob Morris, who has amassed 738 yards for three touchdowns and two interceptions.


Meanwhile, the Blue Tigers are going against the top-ranked defense in the MIAA. The Gorillas are giving up just 292.3 yards a game to opponents -- and much of the success opponents have had has come with their starters against PSU’s reserves in the second halves of all three blowouts.


Lincoln’s defense will have it’s hands full against a powerful Pitt State offense. Brown -- a senior wide receiver -- caught five passes for 171 yards and two long touchdowns last week against Southwest Baptist and then added a 95-yard kickoff return for good measure. Quarterback Anthony Abenoja threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-23 passing, and he leads all of NCAA Division II in pass efficiency with a 204.3 quarterback rating. On the year, Abenoja has completed 48 of 68 passes for 732 yards and nine touchdowns. The junior signal-caller has yet to be intercepted.


On the ground, the Gorillas are led by running back Jeff Seybold, who is averaging 98 yards a carry.


Again, though, Beck warns against a letdown, considering that the Blue Tigers faced a Missouri Southern team that employs the triple-option, which doesn’t fit Lincoln’s personnel.


“They are much more equipped skill-wise and talent-wise and personnel to defend what we do than the triple-option.”

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