'We fired our cannon 'til the barrel melted down'

Carla Wehmeyer/Pittsburg State University
By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Nov 2, 2013

Share This Story:

Thank God for a shutout.


Not only because Pittsburg State’s 70-0 win over the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers marked the first time since 2007 that the Gorillas have held an opponent scoreless.


Mainly because without it, this would be a very boring article to write.


The No. 7 Gorillas obliterated the Rangers, racking up a ridiculous 634 yards of total offense. Sure, it is noteworthy that wide receiver John Brown caught bombs from quarterback Anthony Abenoja on the first two plays from scrimmage that resulted in a pair of TD passes that went for 40 yards and 76 yards, respectively.


Of course, PSU was encouraged to get 367 yards on the ground, including 125 yards and three touchdowns from Jeff Seybold.


But the story of this game was the defense -- the entire defense, not just the starters and second-stringers -- holding  Northwestern Oklahoma to just 128 yards of total offense.


The Rangers picked up 63 yards on the ground and another 65 through the air.


More importantly, though, was the zero on the scoreboard at the end of the game.


“We talked about it quite a bit this week,” PSU defensive lineman Joe Uzzel said. “We knew we hadn’t done it since 2007, so that was a personal goal that we set as a defense.


"We got it.”


The offensive explosion was crazy, as the Gorillas punted once, lost another possession on downs and kneeled down to end the game. That’s for the entire game, which means PSU scored touchdowns on 10 of their 13 possessions.


“After that loss at Northwest, we realized we needed to pick up the intensity,” Abenoja said. “Every game, we haven’t really clicked. I think now that we’re practicing a lot harder, the end result will be better.”


The toughest workout on Saturday may have taken place on the track, though. The Pittsburg State ROTC did a total of 385 pushups and fired the cannon for all 10 touchdowns. In fact, at one point, all this writer could think of was a line from Johnny Horton’s immortal “Battle of New Orleans.”


We fired our cannon ‘til the barrel melted down

So we grabbed an alligator and we pulled another round

We filled his head with cannonballs and powdered his behind

And when we lit the powder off, that gator lost his mind


After the Pitt State defense forced a three-and-out on the first series of the game, the Gorillas took over on the NWOSU 40 on a 26-yard punt.


A play later, Abenoja -- looking for Brown the whole way -- found his favorite receiver for a 40-yard touchdown.


Northwestern Oklahoma was forced to punt after a second consecutive three-and-out, and this time Brown blew past the defense and Abenoja hit him in stride for a 76-yard score.


Two plays in and the Gorillas already led 14-0.


“I knew the the first play we were going to take a shot deep,” Abenoja said. “The second one, they kinda told us on the sideline we were going to try it again.”


The Abenoja-to-Brown connection was only made two more times, and Brown finished the day with four catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. After playing against some tough defenses who have focused on taking him out of the game, Brown was glad to be able to make some plays again.


“Before the game, (PSU head coach Tim) Beck was talking to me about two deep balls for touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown would be nice. I was short of the return, but it was a good feeling, though.”


Abenoja finished the game with an astounding line. He completed 10 of his 12 passes for 265 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Even more impressive, the junior quarterback had a pass efficiency rating of 372.5. Abenoja came into the game ninth in NCAA Division II with a rating of 169.7.


All of this would’ve made for a very boring day at Carnie Smith Stadium. Blowouts can be fun, but at some point, there is no drama to keep a person’s interest.


Today was different, and it was all because of PSU’s quest for its first shutout since drilling Emporia State 62-0 on Nov. 10, 2007.


“Our intensity level was high in the second half,” Beck said. “We told everyone they’d have an opportunity to play. We got a lot of people in there and their intensity was good. A lot of these kids don’t get many reps on the offensive or defensive side, so for them to do some of those things they did was a positive thing for us.”


The one Gorilla who didn’t put gawdy numbers was senior linebacker Nate Dreiling, who entered Saturday’s game needing 14 tackles to set the PSU career mark set in 1995 by Chris Brown. Dreiling registered three tackles against the Rangers, meaning an 11-tackle performance at Lindenwood next week would put him atop the record book.


After the Gorillas suffered their only loss of the season two weeks ago to Northwest Missouri, they have known the rest of the season was a virtual playoff, as a second loss would likely spell the end of their postseason chances.


Now that is magnified after Emporia State pulled off an upset of the Missouri Western Griffons and likely will jump in the regional rankings -- in which the Gorillas are holding onto the sixth and final playoff spot.


“We’re pretty focused,” Abenoja said. “We know that one more loss is the end of our season.”


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.