Another collision set for Arrowhead

By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Oct 18, 2013

Share This Story:

The first two tests in what appears to be the toughest stretch in the Pittsburg State Gorillas' season have been passed.

The Gorillas took care of FCS-member Abilene Christian a fortnight ago at Carnie Smith Stadium, then came away from Warrensburg with a win.

But neither of those teams is the No. 2 Northwest Missouri State Bearcats, whom the No. 7 Gorillas will face Saturday in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead.

And the players have noticed.

"Instead of us having to beg for them to practice hard, they're practicing hard without us asking," PSU head coach Tim Beck said. "They know how big a game it is; they know the importance."

Both Pitt State and Northwest come into this game undefeated, and while both are ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Division II, rankings don't seem to matter much in this rivalry. In fact, just a year ago, Northwest Missouri upset the top-ranked Gorillas in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead X.

On paper, this one looks like it has all the makings of living up to its name.

Just look at the rankings in the MIAA:

• Pitt State is second in total offense with 553.5 yards a game. Northwest, meanwhile, is third with 524.3.

• PSU rushes for 269.5 yards a game, which is second in the conference, while the Bearcats are fourth with 231.3 yards a game.

• The teams are nine yards per game apart in passing offense, and they are tied for fourth in the MIAA in scoring an average of 47.8 points a game.

• Defensively, the Bearcats have an edge, featuring the MIAA's top-rated defense, giving up 305 yards. The Gorillas (3) give up 347.7 yards.

• Opponents rush for 106 yards against the Bearcats (2) and 127 against the Gorillas (3).

• Northwest is the best in the conference in passing defense, giving up 199 yards to PSU's 220.7, which is good for second.

• Northwest has given up 15.2 points a game, while the Gorillas are giving up 19.3 points a game.

Sounds like fun.

The Gorilla defense will have to contend with senior quarterback Trevor Adams, who has thrown for 1,137 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions this year. He had a big game against Central Oklahoma, completing 18 of 21 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

While Adams is the starter, sophomore Brady Bolles also sees time at quarterback and is a more significant running threat than Adams, outrushing the senior 622 yards to 100.

"I don't think that's a big deal," Beck said. "One's completing 75 percent and the other is completing 75 percent and the other is completing 70 percent. I don't think there's much difference."

Both quarterbacks will be looking for receivers Reuben Thomas and Clint Utter. Thomas leads the team with 21 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns, while Utter has 19 catches or 374 yards and five scores.

But for PSU linebacker Nate Dreiling, playing ACU and Central in consecutive weeks has prepared the Gorillas.

"They are both potent offenses," Dreiling said. "We couldn't take any plays off and at an athlete level, it gets us ready for anything."

One of the keys for the Gorillas will be the ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Northwest has allowed just two sacks all season, which is the top mark in the nation.

"Their O-line is really aggressive and do a really good job of blocking everybody," Dreiling said.

Use your Facebook account to add a comment or start a discussion. Posts are subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment.