Gorillas aim to snap skid vs. Missouri Western

Pitt State is 5-3 this season
Gorillas aim to snap skid vs. Missouri Western


The Pittsburg State University football team will return to Carnie Smith Stadium to play host to MIAA rival Missouri Western State College Saturday (Nov. 2). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (CDT).

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 718-352-48 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 dropping three straight decisions including a 36-28 road loss to No. 11 University of Central Missouri last Saturday (Oct. 26).

Missouri Western is 6-2 on the season. The Griffons have won five straight games after a 1-2 start to the season. MWSU blanked Emporia State, 28-0, in its last action last week at St. Joseph, Mo.

The Coaches
Tim Beck
is in his 10th season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled an 81-33 (.711) 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 10th meeting vs. the Griffons. He is 7-2 vs. MWSU.

Matt Williamson is in his third season directing his alma mater. Williamson (MWSU, ’96) previously served as an assistant coach at Western from 2000-07. He has a 16-14-0 (.533) career coaching record. This will be his second meeting vs. Pitt State. He is 0-2 against the Gorillas.

The Pitt State – Western Series
This will be the 44th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and Griffons in a series that dates back to the 1970 season. Pitt State holds a 33-11 (.750) advantage in the series, including a 16-6 record against MWSU at St. Joseph.

Last year, Pitt State defense forced five turnovers and the opportunistic Gorillas took advantage for a 34-13 road win over Missouri Western on Oct. 27 at Spratt Memorial Stadium.

Pitt State scored the game’s first 21 points and took a 24-7 lead to the intermission.

John Roderique passed for 154 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to Tucker Horak. He added a six-yard rushing touchdown as well. Horak added a one-yard run to account for the Gorillas first-half scores. Jared Vincent added a 36-yard field goal with 1:16 remaining in the second quarter.

MWSU scored first in the second half on Shamar Griffith’s nine-yard run to trim Pitt State’s margin to 24-14, but Lorenzo West returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 advantage with 12:07 to play in the third quarter.

Vincent capped the scoring with a 32-yard field goal with 10:36 to play in the game.

Jaylon Myers, Morgan Selemaea and Josh Hornback all registered interceptions for the Gorillas. Hornback and Demetrius Bernard made a team-leading 10 tackles apiece in the contest. Pitt State also forced a pair of fumbles and twice held the Griffons on downs in Gorillas territory.

Horak carried the ball a career-high 22 times for 71 yards.

The Gorillas won the game decisively despite being out-gained, 405 yards to 279 yards, in the contest.

Gorillas at Home
Pitt State holds a 355-133-12 (.722) record in 500 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 155 of their last 183 regular season home games, posting a 155-27-1 record (.850) over the last 35 seasons. ‘

MWSU has posted a 33-21 (.611) road record dating back to the start of the 2010 season. The Griffons are 7-2 on the road in their last nine contests.

PSU’s Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 308 of its last 376 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 308-66-2 (.822) mark during the past 35 seasons (1985-2019). PSU is 164-27-1 at home, 140-29-1 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 260 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 194 of 260 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 718-352-48 overall record, winning 66.5 percent of their 1,117 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 695 victories, followed by Hillsdale (644), Carson-Newman (638) and Central Oklahoma (636).

MWSU has a 294-243-9 (.547) record in 50 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 943 scoring drives (773 TDs, 170 FGs) and averaged just 2:54 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 44 scoring drives (31 TDs, 13 FGs) 2:41 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 164 games, posting a 68-8 (.895) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 49-39 (.557) 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 vs. NWMSU on Oct. 12 and six passes for 152 yards vs. FHSU on Oct. 19. He posted his third straight 100-yard game vs. UCM last week with seven grabs for 108 yards. For the season, West has a team-leading 30 catches for 795 yards (26.5 ypc) and seven touchdowns. The Lawton, Okla., native has made 131 career receptions for 2,203 career yards (16.8 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. He ranks fourth in PSU history in career receiving yards and fourth in career receptions. West also has compiled 4,171 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 16-for-18 (.889) on field goal attempts on the season. He leads all collegiate kickers (all divisions) in kick scoring (10.6 ppg) and ranks fourth overall in field goals made (16). Vincent has converted 42 of 51 (.824) career field goal attempts and 122 of 126 (.968) career PAT tries. He has converted 81 straight PAT tries. A two-time All-MIAA performer, Vincent has scored 237 career points (7.6 ppg).

Senior defensive tackle Simanu’a Thomas has made 25 tackles (14 solo) with 7.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 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 139 career tackles with 38.0 tackles-for-loss, 16.5 quarterback sacks and seven forced fumbles.

Junior linebacker Kaden Roy posted a team-leading 11 tackles vs. FHSU on Oct. 19 – his third straight double digit tackle game. He was credited with a career-high 12 tackles vs. NWMSU on Oct. 12 and 11 stops vs. LU on Oct. 5. For the season, the Webb City, Mo., native had made a team-high 65 tackles (31 solo) with 4.0 tackles-for-loss.

Scouting The Griffons
Senior quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald directs the Missouri Western offense. Steigerwald (6-0, 200) has completed 128 of 220 passes (.582) for 1,901 yards (237.6 ypg) and 23 touchdowns with three interceptions to date.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Devon Holmes (6-2, 185) has been Steigerwald’s favorite target. Holmes has caught 32 passes for 465 yards (14.5 ypc) and three touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Cam Grandy (5-11, 180) has caught 16 passes for 224 yards (14.0 ypc) and four touchdowns.

Senior running back Markel Smith (5-11, 230) has carried the ball 112 times for 688 yards (6.1 ypc) and 11 touchdowns, while junior running back Shamar Griffith (5-7, 150) has rushed 90 times for 519 yards (5.8 ypc) and a touchdown.

MWSU is averaging 248.9 passing yards and 452.4 total yards per game on the season. The Griffons are scoring 41.6 points per game.

Defensively, MWSU is allowing 28.9 points, 170.1 rushing yards and 466.4 total yards per game.

Senior linebacker Anthony Williams (6-2, 215) has made a team-leading 68 tackles (31 solo) with 5.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 quarterback sacks and four pass break-ups.

Junior linebacker Evan Chohon (6-3, 215) has made 65 tackles (36 solo), 5.0 tackles-for-loss and two pass break-ups, while junior cornerback Sam Webb (6-2, 190) had posted 20 tackles (17 solo), three interceptions and eight pass break-ups.

Senior Luke Theis (6-3, 210) has punted 40 times for a 38.5 yard average, while junior Sam Aviles (5-11, 190) has converted four of eight (.500) field goal attempts and 39 of 40 PAT tries.

Freshman Trey Vaval (6-0, 165) has averaged 14.6 yards on punt returns and 35.8 yards on kickoff returns.


Click here to sign up for the KOAM News Now Sports newsletter.