#10 Pitt State Preps for Lindenwood

#10 Pitt State Preps for Lindenwood
web psu football.jpg


PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will seek its 11th consecutive victory dating back to the 2017 season Saturday (Sept. 29) when the Gorillas travel to St. Charles, Mo., to face MIAA rival Lindenwood University. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (CDT) at Hunter Stadium.

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, has accumulated 709 victories, posting a 709-346-48 overall mark in 111 years of intercollegiate play.

The Gorillas opened the 2018 season with a 21-7 win over the University of Central Oklahoma on Aug. 30 at Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium. Pitt State followed that up with a pair of road wins: 34-13 over Emporia State University on Sept. 6 and 45-7 over Northeastern State University on Sept. 15. The Gorillas returned home to knock off the University of Nebraska-Kearney, 30-17, last Saturday (Sept. 22).

Pitt State has posted 10 consecutive victories, after closing out the 2017 campaign with six straight wins including a 48-31 win in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl over Arkansas Tech University in the season finale.

Lindenwood brings a 2-2 record into Saturday’s action. The Lions posted a 48-41 road win over Emporia State last Saturday (Sept. 22) at Emporia, Kan. LWU is still seeking its first home win of the season after dropping a 27-14 decision to Washburn University in the season opener on Aug. 30 and dropping a 52-42 decision to Central Oklahoma on Sept. 15.

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his ninth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 72-27 (.727) career record.

Beck led his alma mater (PSU, ’88) to the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship, earning national coach of the year honors from Liberty Mutual, the Don Hansen Football Committee and FieldTurf™.

Beck became the school’s 14th all-time head football coach in December 2009, after serving for 23 seasons as an assistant coach for the Gorillas including 16 years as the team’s offensive coordinator from 1994-2009.

In his first season leading the Gorillas, Beck guided Pitt State to a 6-6 record and a victory in the 2010 Mineral Water Bowl. In 2011, Beck led the Gorillas to the program’s second NCAA national championship and the school’s fourth national title overall in a 13-1 campaign. Pitt State captured the MIAA Championship and ultimately the NCAA-II National Championship with a 35-21 victory over Wayne (Mich.) State on Dec. 17, 2011.

In 2012, the Gorillas opened the season 5-0 before finishing the year 7-3 overall, while in 2013 Pitt State posted the program’s 20th all-time 10-win season during a 10-2 campaign.

In 2014, the Gorillas shared the MIAA regular season title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA-II playoffs during an 11-2 campaign.

In 2015, a young Pitt State team battled a rash of key injuries to frontline players and the Gorillas had to settle for an uncharacteristic 6-5 season. In 2016, the Gorillas battled key injuries once again and Pitt State posted a 7-4 season.

Last year, Pitt State posted six straight wins to end the season with an 8-4 record including a victory in the 2017 Agent Barry Live United Bowl.

During his 16 seasons as offensive coordinator, the Gorilla offense consistently ranked among the finest units in NCAA Division II.

In 2008, Beck was selected the inaugural NCAA Division II Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com, following a vote of his coaching peers.

In 2004, Beck’s offensive unit established itself as the most prolific squad in the history of NCAA football. PSU shattered a 118-year-old scoring record, scoring an amazing 837 points (55.8 ppg). His squad also set the NCAA all division records for rushing (5,320 yards) and total offense (8,976 yards).

Beck’s teams led Division II in scoring in two of the last six years (2004, 2006) and ranked in the top two nationally in total offense three times in the last six seasons (2004, 2005, 2006).

His squads ranked among the national rushing leaders every season, leading Division II in 1995 (318.8 ypg) and 2004 (354.7 ypg). Beck’s “multiple choice” option attack also compiled 16,483 passing yards (216.9 ypg) and 143 aerial touchdowns during the last six years.

Pitt State averaged a staggering 38.8 points and 442.5 yards of total offense per game during his tenure as offensive coordinator.

Prior to assuming the offensive coordinator’s role, Beck served two years as Pitt State’s defensive coordinator (1992-93). He became a full-time assistant on the Pitt State staff in 1989, after serving first as a student assistant (1987) and then as a graduate assistant (1988).

This will be Beck’s seventh meeting vs. the Lions. He is 4-2 vs. LWU.

LWU’s Jed Stugart is in his second year leading the Lions and his ninth season as a collegiate head coach after spending seven seasons at Division II University of Sioux Falls (S.D.). Stugart has a 6-9 record in his short tenure at Lindenwood and a 71-26 (.732) career mark.

He is 1-0 vs. Pitt State.

The Pitt State-Lindenwood Series
This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Pitt State and Lindenwood. The Gorillas lead the series, 4-1, including four straight wins by an average score of 46-15.

Last year, Najee Jackson passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns and Shakeem Wharton rushed for 105 yards and two scores to lead Lindenwood to a 45-11 road win over Pitt State on Sept. 23.

The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead against the Gorillas. Jared Vincent booted a 21-yard field goal for Pitt State with 6:19 to play in the second quarter, and the Lions took a 14-3 lead to the intermission.

LWU capitalized on a blocked punt to extend its lead with a 27-yard Travis Spraul field goal four minutes into the third quarter, and the Lions added two third quarter touchdowns to push their margin to 31-3.

Ryan Dodd scored on a one-yard run when he picked up a fumble by Quez Allen and advanced it into the end zone with 9:52 to play in the game. Thomas LePage carried in the 2-point conversion run for the Gorillas.

LWU added a 21-yard touchdown scamper by Wharton with 5:46 to play and the Lions tacked on a one-yard TD run by Nash Sutherlin with seven seconds remaining in the contest.

Gorillas on the Road
Pitt State has posted an 85-27-0 (.759) record in its last 112 road games (including post-season play). The Gorillas are 32-6 (.842) in their last 38 road games dating back to Oct. 23, 2010.

Pitt State posted a school and MIAA record 20 straight road wins between the 2010 and 2014 seasons before dropping a 24-21 overtime decision to Minnesota State in the second round of the NCAA-II playoffs on Nov. 29, 2014.

During the last 25 years (1994-pres.), the Gorillas are an equally impressive 96-29-1 (.766) on the road.

PSU’s Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 299 of its last 361 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 299-60-2 (.831) mark during the past 34 seasons (1985-2018). PSU is 160-24-1 at home, 135-27-1 on the road and 4-9-0 at neutral sites in the regular season during that span.

Pitt State in the AFCA Top 25 Poll
Pitt State has been ranked in Division II’s top 10 117 times in the last 243 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 186 of 243 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season). The Gorillas climbed five spots from No. 15 to No. 10 in this week’s NCAA Division II Top 25 poll released Monday (Sept. 24).

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program. The Gorillas, who are competing in their 111th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 709-346-48 overall record, winning 66.5 percent of their 1,103 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just five NCAA Division II institutions to have recorded 600 all-time victories and the Gorillas became just the 33rd program – the first Division II institution – across all levels of college football to reach the 700-win plateau.

Tuskegee is second on the Division II all-time list with 687 victories, followed by Hillsdale (632), Carson-Newman (627) and Central Oklahoma (627).

LWU has a 151-160-2 (.486) record in 29 seasons of intercollegiate play.

Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a “quick strike” unit. During the last 14 seasons (2005-18), the Pitt State offense has generated 861 scoring drives (714 TDs, 147 FGs) and averaged just 2:56 of elapsed time per drive.

2005 97 scoring drives (86 TDs, 11 FGs) 2:40 elapsed time 2012 51 scoring drives (40 TDs, 11 FGs) 2:58 elapsed time
2006 79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs) 2:14 elapsed time 2013 83 scoring drives (70 TDs, 13 FGs) 2:29 elapsed time
2007 64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs) 3:02 elapsed time 2014 74 scoring drives (53 TDs, 21 FGs) 3:06 elapsed time
2008 69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs) 3:23 elapsed time 2015 50 scoring drives (41 TDs, 9 FGs) 2:53 elapsed time
2009 49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs) 3:21 elapsed time 2016 60 scoring drives (48 TDs, 12 FGs) 2:54 elapsed time
2010 41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs) 3:04 elapsed time 2017 56 scoring drives (42 TDs, 14 FGs) 3:18 elapsed time
2011 78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs) 2:54 elapsed time 2018 17 scoring drives (15 TDs, 2 FGs) 3:33 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 74 times (63 TDs, 11 FGs) in the last 159 games, posting a 66-8 (.892) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 49-36 (.576) in games it doesn’t score on its opening drive during the same span.

Inside The Pitt State Offense / Defense
Senior quarterback John Roderique made his 25th start under center for the Gorillas against LWU last week. The Webb City, Mo., native has passed for 5,144 yards and 35 touchdowns in 28 career games for the Gorillas. He also has rushed for 1,193 yards and 18 TDs, compiling 6,337 yards of total offense (226.3 ypg) and accounting for 53 touchdowns. Roderique became just the fifth QB in Pitt State history to eclipse 5,000 career passing yards.

Junior wide receiver Lorenzo West has a team-leading 16 grabs for 312 yards and two TDs on the season, ranking fifth in the MIAA in receiving yards (78.0 ypg) to date. The Lawton, Okla., native has made 61 receptions for 906 career yards (14.9 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brenner Clemons has enjoyed a successful return from an injury shortened season in 2017. The Lee’s Summit, Mo., native has caught 14 passes for 169 yards and two TDs on the season. Clemons, the 2016 MIAA Freshman of the Year, has made 66 career receptions for 893 yards (13.5 ypc) and eight touchdowns.

Junior defensive end Cole Morris made five tackles with 2.5 TFLs, 2.0 quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles vs. UNK last Saturday, earning MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors. The Shawnee, Kan., native now leads the MIAA with 5.5 QB sacks and he ranks third in the conference in tackles-for-loss (6.5). Morris transferred to Pitt State in January from Butler Community College.

Junior cornerback KiAnte Hardin continues to impress in all three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams. Hardin, an NCAA Division I transfer from the University of Minnesota who redshirted at PSU in 2017, caught a 10-yard TD pass as a wide receiver and hauled in a fourth-quarter interception as a cornerback for the Gorillas against UNK – the second time this season he scored a TD and recorded an INT (vs. ESU). The Webb City, Mo., native returned a punt 59 yards for a TD in the season opener vs. UCO. He’s averaging 15.8 yards per punt return on the season, ranking 12th in Division II. Hardin also has caught seven passes for 84 yards (21.0 ypc) and two TDs and he’s made four tackles (three solo) with two INTs and four pass break-ups. He shares the MIAA lead in INTs and ranks second in the conference in passes defended (6, 1.5 pg).

Scouting the Lions
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cade Brister directs the LWU offense. Brister (6-1, 209) has completed 82 of 126 passes for 943 yards (235.8 ypg) and 11 TDs and rushed the ball 75 times for 282 yards (3.8 ypc) and three scores.

Junior tight end Erik Henneman (6-3, 228) has been Brister’s favorite target, catching a team-leading 24 passes for 297 yards (12.4 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Jarrett Johnson (6-1, 186) also has 11 grabs for 158 yards (14.4 ypc) and two TDs.

Junior running back Nash Sutherlin (5-8, 173) has carried the ball 48 times for 317 yards (6.6 ypc) and two touchdowns to lead the Lions’ ground gainers.

LWU is averaging 257.2 passing yards and 441.8 total yards per game. The Lions are scoring an MIAA-leading 38.8 points per game.

Defensively, LWU is allowing 33.2 points, 241.0 passing yards and 386.0 total yards per game.

Junior safety Darrius Williams (6-2, 188) has made a team-leading 37 tackles (20 solo) on the season while sophomore linebacker Drew Seers (6-1, 222) has posted 35 tackles (15 solo), 5.5 tackles-for-loss and one pass break-up.

Senior Michael Crowder has punted 23 times for a 36.9-yard average, while sophomore Barrett Foley has converted his only field goal attempt of the season – a 32-yard try.