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#15 Pitt State Looks for 4-0 Start vs. Kearney

The Pittsburg State Gorillas will be at home on Saturday, facing the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers. Pitt State is 3-0 to start the season, and has climbed the national rankings up to #15 this week.

Through three weeks, Nebraska-Kearney is leading the MIAA in rushing. They're the only team in the league averaging 300+ rushing yards per game. It will be a good test for a Gorilla defense that's 2nd in the league in rushing defense, giving up just 103 yards per night.

"Being eye-disciplined is the key to the game," says senior safety, and Carl Junction product Matt Magee, "It all comes down to how bad you want to win and doing the little, little things. We feel like on the defensive side this is championship football. So this is one step that we have to get to be where we want to be at the end of the year."

"It's not like they completely can't throw it either," says head coach Tim Beck, "They will lull you to sleep and then the next thing you know, they'll hit somebody vertically down the field. You got a guy who is lined up in the slot and he's been blocking and blocking and blocking, and then all the sudden he's running a vertical route off play action. So you just have to be smart about what we're doing and do your assignment."

RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:

PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will seek its 10th consecutive victory dating back to the 2017 season Saturday (Sept. 22) when the Gorillas return to the friendly confines of Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium to host MIAA rival University of Nebraska-Kearney for Family Day. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (CDT).

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, has accumulated 708 victories, posting a 708-346-48 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 last Saturday (Sept. 15).

The Gorillas have posted nine consecutive victories, after closing out the 2017 campaign with posted an 8-4 record in 2017 with six straight wins including a 48-31 win in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl over Arkansas Tech University in the season finale.

Nebraska-Kearney brings a 2-1 record into Saturday's action. The Lopers posted a 45-0 win over Missouri Southern State University in their opener Aug. 30 and added a 31-27 road win over Central Oklahoma on Sept. 6. UNK dropped a hard-fought 20-17 decision to Emporia State last Saturday (Sept. 15) at Kearney, Neb.

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his ninth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 71-27 (.724) 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 fifth meeting vs. the Lopers.  He is 4-0 vs. UNK.

Josh Lynn is in his second season as head coach at UNK and his sixth year as a collegiate head coach. Lynn has a 5-9 record in his short tenure leading the Lopers and a 32-34 (.485) overall mark.

Lynn (E. New Mexico, 2000) posted a 27-25 record in five seasons leading his alma mater, Eastern New Mexico (2012-16).  This will be his second meeting vs. Pitt State. He is 0-1 agains the Gorillas.

The Pitt State - Nebraska-Kearney Series
This will be the 21st meeting between the Gorillas and the Lopers in a series that dates back to the 1974 season, but it will be just the sixth meeting between the two squads since 1988. Pitt State holds a 13-7 edge in the series.

The Gorillas and Lopers met for 15 consecutive years, between 1974-88, when they were conference foes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (1974-75) and Central States Intercollegiate Conference (1976-88).

Last year, the Pitt  State defense forced three turnovers and limited Nebraska-Kearney to 164 total yards as the Gorillas claimed a 35-13 road win over the Lopers on Nov. 4 at Cope Stadium.

Pitt State posted its fourth consecutive victory by using a 14-point third quarter to break open a 14-7 game against UNK.

Quarterback Thomas LePage rushed for a game-high 103 yards and passed for 105 yards and a score to lead the Pitt State offense.

Michael Rose added 93 rushing yards and a touchdown, while D'Vontae Brown scored twice in short yardage situations and Keynan Scheurich added a fourth quarter rushing touchdown. Austin Panko caught two passes for a team-leading 46 yards, including a 22-yard scoring grab late in the third quarter.

The Gorillas forced the Lopers into eight punts in the contest and limited UNK to 46 net rushing yards on 33 carries. Pitt State registered three quarterback sacks and made 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage overall.

Gorillas at Home
Pitt State holds a 350-130-12 (.724) record in 492 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 150 of their last 175 regular season home games, posting a 150-24-1 record (.860) over the last 34 seasons.

Nebraska-Kearney is 6-28 (.176) in 34 road games since joining the MIAA in 2012.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 298 of its last 360 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 298-60-2 (.831) mark during the past 34 seasons (1985-2018). PSU is 159-24-1 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 10 116 times in the last 242 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 185 of 242 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season). The Gorillas climbed eight spots from No. 23 to No. 15 in this week's NCAA Division II Top 25 poll released Monday (Sept. 17).

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 708-346-48 overall record, winning 66.4 percent of their 1,102 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 (631), Carson-Newman (627) and Central Oklahoma (626).

UNK has a 532-341-27(.606) record in 95 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 857 scoring drives (710 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    13 scoring drives (11 TDs, 2 FGs)     3:40 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 157 games, posting a 66-8 (.892) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 48-36 (.571) 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 24th start under center for the Gorillas against NSU last week. Roderique competed 12 of 16 passes for 108 yards and one TD against the RiverHawks. The Webb City, Mo., native has passed for 5,111 yards and 35 touchdowns in 27 career games for the Gorillas. He also has rushed for 1,182 yards and 16 TDs, compiling 6,293 yards of total offense (233.1 ypg) and accounting for 51 touchdowns. Roderique became just the fifth QB in Pitt State history to eclipse 5,000 career passing yards.

Junior wide receiver Lorenzo West caught four passes for 80 yards against NSU last week. The Lawton, Okla., native has a team-leading 13 grabs for 278 yards and two TDs on the season, ranking second in the MIAA in receiving yards (92.7 ypg) to date. He has made 58 receptions for 872 career yards (15.0 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 caught three passes for 34 yards and a TD against the RiverHawks last week. Clemons, the 2016 MIAA Freshman of the Year, has made 62 career receptions for 853 yards (13.8 ypc) and eight touchdowns.

Junior defensive end Cole Morris made five tackles with 2.5 TFLs and 2.0 quarterback sacks vs. NSU last Saturday. The Shawnee, Kan., native now leads the MIAA with 3.5 QB sacks on the season. Morris transferred to Pitt State in January from Butler Community College.

Sophomore placekicker Jared Vincent earned MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week after booting a career-long 51 yard field goal and converting six PATs against NSU last Saturday. The Claremore, Okla., has converted three of five field goals and all 13 PAT tries on the season. He has made 17 of 22 (.773) field goals for his career.

Scouting the Lopers
Junior quarterback Alex McGinnis directs the UNK offense. McGinnis (6-3, 220) has completed 26 of 45 passes for 404 yards (134.7 ypg) and two TDs and rushed the ball 52 times for 225 yards (4.2 ypc).

Senior wide receiver Trey Lansman (6-7, 230) has been McGinnis' favorite target, catching a team-leading nine passes for 180 yards (20.0 ypc) and a touchdown.

Junior running back Darrius Webb (5-10, 180) has carried the ball 41 times for 315 yards (7.7 ypc) and six touchdowns to lead the Lopers' ground gainers. Webb leads the MIAA in scoring (12.0 ppg) and ranks second in the conference in rushing (105.0 ypg).

UNK is averaging 315.7 rushing yards and 450.3 total yards per game. The Lopers, who lead the MIAA and ranks third in Division II in rushing, are scoring 31.0 points per game.

Defensively, UNK is allowing 15.7 points, 132.3 rushing yards and 321.0 total yards per game.

Junior linebacker Sal Silvio (5-10, 205) has made a team-leading 36 tackles (nine solo) on the season while junior cornerback Malik Webb (6-1, 185) has posted nine tackles (seven solo), one interception and five pass break-ups.

Junior Kendall Rashein has punted 18 times for a 41.8-yard average, while freshman Brian Covarrubias has converted three of five field goals on the season.


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