#19 Pitt State preps for homecoming game vs. Fort Hays State

The Gorillas are 5-1 this season


The Pittsburg State University football team will return to the friendly confines of Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium to face MIAA rival Fort Hays State University Saturday (Oct. 19).

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (CDT).

Saturday’s game is Homecoming on the Pitt State campus. The Gorillas are 56-12-2 in Homecoming games since 1949, including a 12-2-1 mark against FHSU.

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, is competing in its 112th season of intercollegiate football at the institution. The Gorillas have accumulated 718 victories, posting a 718-350-48 overall mark.

Pitt State opened the 2019 campaign with a 37-35 road win over the University of Central Oklahoma on Sept. 5 at Edmond, Okla. The Gorillas posted five consecutive victories before suffering a 38-17 decision to No. 7 Northwest Missouri State University last Saturday (Oct. 12) at Arrowhead Stadium at Kansas City, Mo.

Pitt State slid six spots to No. 19 in this week’s AFCA/NCAA Division II Top 25 poll following the Gorillas loss to the Bearcats.

Fort Hays State is 4-2 on the season. The Tigers have won four straight games after opening the season with back-to-back losses. FHSU claimed a 19-3 home win over Emporia State University last Saturday (Oct. 12).

The Coaches
Tim Beck
is in his 10th season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled an 81-31 (.723) 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.

In 2017, 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. Last year, the Gorillas posted an 8-3 record and narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA-II playoffs.

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 eighth meeting vs. the Tigers. He is 3-4 vs. FHSU.

Chris Brown is in his eighth season as head coach at FHSU. Brown (Pitt State, 1996) has compiled a 62-35-0 (.639) record leading the Tigers. Brown, a three-time All-America free safety for the Gorillas from 1993-95, came to FHSU after serving as defensive coordinator at Washburn from 2002-10. This will be his eighth meeting vs. his alma mater. Brown is 4-3 vs. Pitt State.

The Pitt State-Fort Hays Series
This will be the 78th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Tigers in a series that dates all the way back to the 1915 season.

Pitt State holds a commanding 46-22-9 advantage in the series. The Gorillas are 24-11-3 vs. the Tigers in Pittsburg all-time. Pitt State is 20-4-1 in its last 25 overall meetings against Fort Hays State.

Last year, Fort Hays State scored 31 unanswered points to rally from a 14-12 deficit en route to a 50-21 victory over Pitt State on Oct. 13 at Hays, Kan.

The Tigers scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Mezera to Harley Hazlett on the first offensive play of the game. After a miscue on the ensuing kickoff pinned PSU at its own 2 yard line, FHSU’s Malik Young stopped Keynan Scheurich in the end zone for a safety, staking the Tigers to a 9-0 lead 27 seconds into the game.

Pitt State bounced back with a 25-yard John Roderique to Brenner Clemons touchdown pass. After FHSU’s Dante Brown booted a 27-yard field goal, the Gorillas took a 14-12 lead on Tyler Adkins’ 20-yard run with 14:22 to play in the second quarter.

FHSU took a 26-14 lead to halftime thanks to a 59-yard pass from Mezera to Matt Wendelberger and a one-yard run by Hazlett. The Tigers ran off 17 more points before the Gorillas halted the scoring splurge with Roderique’s 15-yard scoring pass to Lorenzo West.

FHSU, which capitalized on five Pitt State turnovers, added a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown by Doyin Jibowu for the game’s final points. Mezera completed nine of 13 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns for the Tigers.

Roderique competed 21 of 37 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns for Pitt State. Adkins carried the ball 20 times for 55 yards, while West had 13 grabs for 96 yards.

Gorillas at Home
Pitt State holds a 355-132-12 (.723) record in 499 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 155 of their last 182 regular season home games, posting a 155-26-1 record (.854) over the last 35 seasons. ‘

FHSU has posted a 30-22 (.577) record dating back to the start of the 2010 season.

PSU’s Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 308 of its last 372 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 308-64-2 (.831) mark during the past 35 seasons (1985-2019). PSU is 164-26-1 at home, 140-28-1 on the road and 4-10-0 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 10 118 times in the last 258 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 194 of 258 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season).

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program. The Gorillas, who are in their 112th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 718-350-48 overall record, winning 66.5 percent of their 1,116 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just seven 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. Currently, the Gorillas are ranked 31st among all college football programs in all-time victories.

Tuskegee is second on the Division II all-time list with 693 victories, followed by Hillsdale (643), Carson-Newman (637) and Central Oklahoma (635).

FHSU has a 474-469-44 (.503) record in 107 seasons of intercollegiate play.

Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a “quick strike” unit. During the last 15 seasons (2005-19), the Pitt State offense has generated 932 scoring drives (764 TDs, 168 FGs) and averaged just 2:55 of elapsed time per drive.

2005 97 scoring drives (86 TDs, 11 FGs) 2:40 elapsed time 2013 83 scoring drives (70 TDs, 13 FGs) 2:29 elapsed time
2006 79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs) 2:14 elapsed time 2014 74 scoring drives (53 TDs, 21 FGs) 3:06 elapsed time
2007 64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs) 3:02 elapsed time 2015 50 scoring drives (41 TDs, 9 FGs) 2:53 elapsed time
2008 69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs) 3:23 elapsed time 2016 60 scoring drives (48 TDs, 12 FGs) 2:54 elapsed time
2009 49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs) 3:21 elapsed time 2017 56 scoring drives (42 TDs, 14 FGs) 3:18 elapsed time
2010 41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs) 3:04 elapsed time 2018 48 scoring drives (37 TDs, 11 FGs) 3:14 elapsed time
2011 78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs) 2:54 elapsed time 2019 33 scoring drives (22 TDs, 11 FGs) 2:38 elapsed time
2012 51 scoring drives (40 TDs, 11 FGs) 2:58 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 76 times (64 TDs, 12 FGs) in the last 162 games, posting a 68-8 (.895) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 49-37 (.570) in games it doesn’t score on its opening drive during the same span.

Inside The Pitt State Offense / Defense
Senior wide receiver Lorenzo West caught five passes for a career-high 163 yards and a TD last week vs. NWMSU. For the season, West has a team-leading 17 catches for 535 yards (24.3 ypc) and five touchdowns. The Lawton, Okla., native has made 118 career receptions for 1,943 career yards (15.8 ypc) and 14 touchdowns. He ranks fifth in PSU history in career receiving yards and fifth in career receptions. West, who also averages 31.7 yards per kickoff return, has compiled 3,778 career all-purpose yards.

Senior place kicker Jared Vincent set a Pitt State record by converting 17 consecutive field goals between Nov. 3, 2018 and Sept. 28, 2019. The Claremore, Okla., native is 14-for-15 (.933) on field goal attempts on the season. He leads all collegiate kickers (all divisions) in field goals made (14) and kick scoring (12.0 ppg). Vincent has converted 40 of 48 (.833) career field goal attempts and 115 of 119 (.966) career PAT tries. He has converted 74 straight PAT tries. A two-time All-MIAA performer, Vincent has scored 235 career points (8.1 ppg).

Senior defensive tackle Simanu’a Thomas has made 19 tackles (11 solo) with 5.0 tackles-for-loss and 3.0 quarterback sacks on the season. The Independence, Mo., native is a two-time NCAA Division II All-America and three-time All-MIAA performer. For his career, Thomas has registered 133 career tackles with 36.0 tackles-for-loss, 15.5 quarterback sacks and seven forced fumbles.

Junior linebacker Kaden Roy posted a career-high 12 tackles vs. NWMSU last week – his second straight double digit tackle game. He was credited with 11 stops vs. LU on Oct. 5. For the season, the Webb City, Mo., native had made a team-high 46 tackles (22 solo) with 3.5 tackles-for-loss.

Scouting The Tigers
Sophomore quarterback Chance Fuller directs the Fort Hays State offense. Fuller (6-3, 215) has completed 135 of 217 passes (.622) for 1,711 yards (285.2 ypg) and 18 touchdowns with four interceptions in the Tigers first six games.

Senior wide receiver Harley Hazlett (6-3, 2305) has been Fuller’s favorite target. Hazlett has caught 40 passes for 541 yards (13.5 ypc) and eight touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Manny Ramsey (5-11, 180) has caught 23 passes for 366 yards (15.9 ypc) and four touchdowns.

Senior running back Charles Tigner (5-9, 180) has carried the ball 109 times for 474 yards (4.3 ypc) and one touchdown, while senior running back D.J. Hickman (5-9, 170) has rushed 46 times for 275 yards (6.0 ypc) and a touchdown.

FHSU is averaging 295.5 passing yards and 438.2 total yards per game on the season. The Tigers are scoring 31.0 points per game.

Defensively, FHSU is allowing 18.8 points, 145.5 rushing yards and 353.3 total yards per game. The Tigers lead in the MIAA in scoring defense to date.

Junior linebacker Drew Harvey (6-1, 230) has made a team-leading 50 tackles (24 solo) with 5.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 quarterback sacks and three pass break-ups.

Senior safety Tanner Hoekman (6-1, 220) has made 48 tackles (23 solo), 3.0 tackles-for-loss, three interceptions and three pass break-ups, while senior defensive end Sheldon Schmidt (6-5, 250) had posted 21 tackles (12 solo), 4.5 tackles-for-loss and a team-leading 3.0 quarterback sacks.

Freshman Benjamin Donald (6-1, 200) has punted 30 times for a 39.0 yard average, while senior Dante Brown (5-10, 185) has converted 13 of 17 (.765) field goal attempts and all 19 of his PAT tries.

Senior Layne Bieberle (6-2, 185) has averaged 8.2 yards on punt returns, while Hazlett has averaged 17.7 yards on kickoff returns.


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