No. 10 Gorillas grab 31-21 win from UCM

Carla Wehmeyer / Pittsburg State University
By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Oct 12, 2013

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The Pittsburg State Gorillas are coming home from Warrensburg, Mo., with stolen property.


That’s right, the No. 10-ranked and 6-0 Gorillas blatantly stole 14 points from the Central Missouri Mules en route to a 31-21 victory.


Here’s how things went down.


Pitt State won the opening coin toss and deferred. The Mules elected to receive, but on the first play from scrimmage PSU senior linebacker Nate Dreiling stepped in front of a pass by UCM quarterback Hayden Hawk that set up a 15-yard touchdown run by PSU quarterback Anthony Abenoja and gave the Gorillas a 7-0 lead.


The fact that the Gorillas called a designed run by their quarterback on a third-and-goal play from the 15 pleased head coach Tim Beck.


“That was a huge play,” Beck said. “We’d like to be tough to defend, run or pass and not let them know what we’re doing. We’re getting close to that. There’s just some things we need to get cleaned up.”


But Hawk regrouped, and after two 80-plus yard drives -- the last that ended with a 73-yard touchdown pass -- the Gorillas trailed 14-7


Abenoja hit John Brown for a game-tying touchdown with a minute left in the first half, and it appeared that would be the situation going into halftime.


Except that UCM’s Jamal Roye fumbled a high kickoff at his own 33 and Isaac Maselera pounced on it to give the Gorillas a chance to steal the lead.


That larceny occurred when Abenoja found Conner Combs in the end zone on a third-and-1 play with just six seconds left in the half to make it a 21-14 advantage for the Gorillas.


In the second half, Abenoja marched the Gorillas 80 yards on nine plays, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Brown that looked like it might seal the deal.


But, the Mules fought to within a touchdown before Conner Frazell booted a 28-yard field goal for the final margin.


The Gorillas had a a golden oppportunity to add some insurance in the second half. Prior to Central’s second-half touchdown, PSU running back Jeff Seybold fumbled at the Central 2 that would’ve put the Gorillas up two touchdowns at the time.


But in the end, a win is a win.


“This is a great win for us,” Beck said. “We’re happy with the win, but we’re not real happy with how we won. Our defense played extremely well in the first half with two interceptions and covering a fumble on a kickoff. We didn’t have enough points to show for it.”


This is the second week of a tough stretch of schedule for the Gorillas. PSU beat FCS-member Abilene Christian 28-20 a week ago and beat a Central team that at 2-3 was better than its record.


“I told the coaches that this team makes me more nervous than the next few weeks,” Beck said. “Because no matter what you say to a kid, it’s hard for them not to look at them like a 2-3 team.”


That won’t be an issue for the Gorillas’ next week, when they travel to Kansas City for the Fall Classic at Arrowhead against the No. 3-ranked Northwest Missouri State Bearcats at 3 p.m. Saturday.


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