Gorillas look to bounce back versus Western

By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Oct 25, 2013

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There have been plenty of thoughts about what went wrong Saturday afternoon as the Pittsburg State Gorillas lost 24-15 to the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats at the Fall Classic at Arrowhead.


Those theories run the gamut from PSU not getting wide receiver John Brown involved enough in the offense to quarterback Anthony Abenoja was rattled to the offensive line couldn’t keep Northwest on the right side of the line of scrimmage.


It would be hard to dismiss any of these observations out of hand. However, one thing is undeniable.


Northwest did to Pitt State what the Gorillas try to do to every team they play: they turned PSU into a one-dimensional team.


We didn’t get the run game established early on and it forced us to be one-dimensional in the second half, which allowed their defensive linemen to get in a three-point stance and get up field, rush us hard and put a lot of pressure on Tony,” PSU head coach Tim Beck said.


The Gorillas -- who entered Saturday rushing for 2 69yards per game -- gained only 87 yards on the ground. That number is paltry enough, but given that Abenoja was sacked five times for minus-57 yards, Pitt State netted just 27 yards on the ground.


That bears repeating.


Pitt State netted just 27 yards on the ground.


Today, when the Gorillas -- who fell from No. 7 to No. 12 -- travel to St. Joseph, Mo., to face the No. 4-ranked Missouri Western Griffons in an all-important MIAA showdown.


With the Gorillas falling a week ago to Northwest Missouri, Pitt State has very little leeway if it hopes to make the postseason. If they win out, they more than likely will be in the playoffs. But another loss would likely mean a second year with no postseason.


Western and the Gorillas appear to be very evenly matched. In fact, with the exception of scoring offense and scoring defense -- which are close -- Pitt State has a statistical edge. Western is scoring three points a game more than the Gorillas, and are giving up two fewer points.


So the key to beating Western -- and keeping playoff hopes alive -- is to get the running game open so that the rest of the offense can open up.


On the other side of the ball, Pitt State’s defense played well at Arrowhead, holding the No. 2 team in the nation to just 24 points -- and four of those points came on safeties.


This week, they will need to play just as well. The main threat from Western comes in the form of running back Raphael Spencer, who is rushing for 7.1 yards a carry, and has amassed 866 yards and nine touchdowns.


Stopping the running game seems to play to the strength of the PSU defense, and especially senior linebacker Nate Dreiling, who needs 25 tackles to become the leading tackler in program history.


While Western’s bread-and-butter may be on the ground, senior quarterback Travis Partridge has thrown for 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns, while throwing only two picks on the season.


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