No. 6 Gorillas Set to Host Mules for Senior Day

Press Release PSU:

The Pittsburg State University football team, the No. 6 ranked team in NCAA Division II, will return to the friendly confines of Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium Saturday (Nov. 8) to host MIAA rival University of Central Missouri for Senior Day.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (CST).

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, brings an 8-1 record into Saturday’s action. The Gorillas remain tied atop the MIAA standings (with Northwest Missouri State University) with two games remaining in the regular season. Pitt State rolled to a 41-10 victory over Missouri Southern State University in its last outing on Nov. 1.

UCM is 7-2 on the season and tied for third place in the MIAA standings (with the University of Central Oklahoma). The Mules have won six straight games to erase a 1-2 start to the season, including a 48-28 victory over Lindenwood University last Saturday (Nov. 1).

Head coach Tim Beck will honor 25 outgoing senior members of the Pitt State squad during pre-game ceremonies Saturday.

Pitt State is seeking its 11th sellout crowd in the last 15 home games in the 7,950-seat Carnie Smith Stadium Saturday. The Gorillas lead the MIAA and rank third in NCAA Division II in home attendance this season, averaging 10,391 fans per game. [see additional attendance info., page 2]

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his fifth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 44-13 (.772) career record.

Beck led his alma mater (PSU, ’88) to the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship three seasons ago, 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 2013, the Gorillas opened the season 5-0 before finishing the year 7-3 overall, while last year Pitt State posted the program’s 20th all-time 10-win season during a 10-2 campaign.

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, 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. UCM. He is 3-1 against the Mules.

UCM’s Jim Svoboda is in his fifth year leading the Mules and his 11th season as a collegiate coach. Svoboda (Northwestern College, ’83) has compiled a 38-17 (.691) record at UCM and a 90-36 (.714) overall mark. He is 1-3 vs. Pitt State.

The Pitt State-Central Missouri Series
This will be the 52nd all-time meeting between the Gorillas and Mules in a series that dates all the way back to the 1916 season. Pitt State holds a decided 41-8-2 (.824) advantage in the series, including a 20-5-0 record against UCM in Pittsburg.

The Gorillas are 14-2 against the Mules in Pittsburg since 1960, including a 30-21 victory the last time the two squads met at Carnie Smith Stadium on Oct. 6, 2012.

Last year, Pitt State claimed a 31-21 victory at Warrensburg, Mo., on Oct. 12, 2013.

Quarterback Anthony Abenoja passed for 290 yards and three scores and ran for a fourth touchdown to lead the 10th-ranked Gorillas to the win. Abenoja completed 20 of 30 passes, including 12 targets for 199 yards to wide receiver John Brown.

The Pitt State defense forced four turnovers in the contest. Linebacker Nate Dreiling intercepted a Hayden Hawk pass attempt on the game’s first play to set up Abenoja’s scoring run. The Gorillas limited the Mules to 59 net rushing yards on 27 carries, with running back LaVance Taylor gaining 20 yards on nine carries.

PSU’s Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 273 of its last 322 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 273-47-2 (.851) mark during the past 30 seasons (1985-2014). PSU is 148-16-1 at home, 121-22-1 on the road and 4-9-0 at neutral sites in the regular season during that span.

Gorillas At Home
Pitt State holds a 338-122-12 (.729) record in 472 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 139 of their last 156 regular season home games, posting a 139-16-1 record (.894) over the last 30 seasons.

UCM is 18-10 (.643) in road games during Coach Svoboda’s tenure began in 2000, and the Mules have a 30-23 (.566) road record during the past 10 seaso.

Pitt State in the AFCA Top 25 Poll
Pitt State, currently the No. 6 team in NCAA Division II, has been ranked in Division II’s top 10 110 times in the last 199 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 173 of 199 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season). [for complete poll, see page 7]

UCM has compiled a 7-10 (.412) record against nationally-ranked opponents since the start of the 2010 season.

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program. The Gorillas, who are in their 107th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 681-332-48 overall record, winning 66.4 percent of their 1,061 all-time games.

Pittsburg State is one of just 17 NCAA Division II institutions to have recorded 500 all-time victories and the Gorillas are just one of five schools to have reached the 600-win plateau. Tuskegee is second on the all-time list with 654 victories, followed by Hillsdale (611), Carson-Newman (602) and Central Oklahoma (600).

UCM has compiled a 524-499-51 (.513) record in 118 seasons of play.

Playing Ahead
Pitt State has capitalized on fast starts to build several early first-quarter leads this season.

The Gorillas have scored on their opening drive in four of nine games. Pitt State has trailed in just four games this season for a total of 113 minutes, 27 seconds. The Gorillas have played in the lead in 367:19 of 540 total minutes played – an average 39:41 per game. Pitt State has been tied or trailed for just 20:19 per game.

Pitt State Defense Leads Nation in Points allowed
The Pittsburg State University defense has allowed just 92 points in the Gorillas first nine games, a scant 10.2 points per game average.

Pitt State has posted two shutouts – 37-0 over Northeastern State in Pittsburg on Sept. 6 and 42-0 over Washburn at Topeka on Sept. 20 – and currently leads NCAA Division II in scoring defense. The Gorillas last posted two shutouts in a season in 2007. That squad posted three shutouts during an 8-3 campaign.

Since joining NCAA Division II in 1989, Pitt State has recorded 33 shutouts. The Gorillas recorded one or more shutout in every year between 1989 and 2007, except 1998.

No MIAA team has recorded more shutouts in the last 26 seasons (1989-2014) than Pitt State. Central Missouri has the second-most shutouts with 19, while NW Missouri State is third with 13.

This marks the 10th time since joining NCAA Division II that Pitt State has posted two or more shutouts in a season (1989, 1991, 1993-94, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2014).

In addition to leading NCAA Division II in points allowed, the Pitt State defense ranks among the nation’s top squads in several statistical categories.

The Gorillas also rank third in first down defense (12.3 pg) and red zone defense, allowing just eight scores in 15 opponent trips inside the Pitt State red zone (.533, 8-for-15). Pitt State also ranks fourth in total defense (245.6 ypg), sixth in third down conversion defense (.273), seventh in passing yards allowed (145.2 ypg) and ninth in passing efficiency defense (92.3 rating).

Pitt State Passing Attack Leads the MIAA
While it’s no secret Pitt State’s offensive success has been predicated on running the football, the Gorillas have unleashed a potent passing attack to compliment their stalwart running game.

In fact, Pitt State leads the MIAA in passing, averaging 301.1 yards per game. Gorilla quarterbacks have completed 185 of 307 passes (.603) for 2,710 yards and 23 touchdowns with just five INTs.

Since the start of the 2004 season, the Gorillas have passed for 28,702 yards and 221 TDs, averaging 233.3 passing yards and 1.8 touchdown passes per game in the last 123 outings.

In 2013, quarterback Anthony Abenoja established a new single-season passing record, averaging 246.2 passing yards per game. Also, against Lincoln on Sept. 28 Abenoja established new school single game records for passing yards (442), passing touchdowns (5) and total offense (463 yards). The Gorillas averaged 247.7 passing yards with 31 touchdowns and five interceptions last year.

This year, Abenoja has become the school’s all-time passing yards leader (8,174) and he’s averaging 291.8 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and three interceptions.

During the past two seasons (2013-14), Abenoja has completed 359 of 577 passes (.622) for 5,580 yards (265.7 ypg) and 52 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.

To compliment the passing game, Pitt State has rushed the ball for the highest yardage total among all NCAA Division II programs since 1986, compiling 99,197 rushing yards (including postseason competition) for an average of 283.4 yards in 350 games overall.

Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a “quick strike” unit.

During the last 10 seasons (2005-14), the Pitt State offense has generated 660 scoring drives (556 TDs, 104 FGs) and averaged just 2:37 of elapsed time per drive. [Overtime scoring drives not included in elapsed time figures.]

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

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 57 times (47 TDs, 10 FGs) in the last 117 games, posting a 54-3 (.947) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 33-27 (.550) in games it doesn’t score on its opening drive during the same span.

Pitt State Displays Prolific Offense
The Pitt State offense has asserted itself as one of the top units in NCAA Division II the past 11 seasons (2004-14). Pitt State’s high octane “multiple choice” offense ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 nationally in both scoring and total offense in three of the last eight seasons.

In 2004, PSU staked its claim as the most prolific offense in the history of NCAA football, leading Division II in scoring (55.8 ppg), rushing (354.7 ypg) and total offense (598.4 ypg).

Pitt State broke the NCAA’s 118-year-old all-time all division scoring record with 837 points, besting the old mark of 765 points set by Harvard in 1886. The Gorillas also broke the all-time NCAA all division records for rushing (5,320 yards) and total offense (8,976 yards) in 2004.

Oklahoma set the previous rushing record (5,196 yards) in 1971, and Texas Tech held the previous total offense mark (7,576 yards) in 2003.

In 2005, Pitt State ranked second nationally in scoring and total offense, averaging 46.8 points and 536.0 total yards per game. The Gorillas also ranked seventh nationally in rushing, averaging 295.2 yards a game.

In 2006, Pitt State led NCAA Division II in scoring and ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense, averaging 44.8 points and 454.8 total yards per game in 2006.

In 2007, the Gorillas ranked 21st nationally in scoring and 19th nationally in total offense, averaging 37.4 points and 454.2 total yards per game. In 2008, Pitt State ranked 18th nationally in scoring (35.5 ppg) and 21st in the nation in total offense (432.6 ypg).

In 2009, the Pitt State offense averaged 29.4 points and 434.4 total yards per game, while the Gorillas averaged 22.8 points and 357.7 total yards per game in 2010.

In 2011, the Gorillas ranked sixth nationally in scoring (40.2 ppg) and 19th in the country in total offense (448.5 ypg), while the Gorillas ranked 24th nationally in total offense (454.4 ypg) and 27th in the country in rushing offense (204.6 ypg) in 2012. Last year, Pitt State ranked third nationally in scoring (46.5 ppg) and 10th in the country in total offense (499.0 ypg).

The Gorillas are averaging 33.7 points and 446.0 yards of total offense this season.

Abenoja Among Nation’s Top Quarterbacks
Senior quarterback Anthony Abenoja is in his third year directing the high-powered Pitt State offense.

Abenoja (6-3, 217) has compiled a 25-6 (.806) record as the Gorillas’ starter under center.

The Overland Park, Kan., native became Pitt State’s all-time passing leader on Sept. 11 against Lindenwood, when he completed 20 of 31 passes for 323 yards and three TDs. He garnered MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 20 when he completed 19 of 33 passes for 330 yards and four TDs against Washburn.

Abenoja also set the Pitt State career touchdown passes record (62) when he passed for 438 yards – the second-best single game passing total – and five TDs vs. Emporia State (Oct. 11).
For the season, he has completed 176 of 288 passes (.611) for 2,626 yards (291.8 ypg) and 22 touchdowns with three interceptions.

He currently leads the MIAA and ranks 11th in NCAA Division II in passing efficiency with a 160.8 rating. Abenoja also leads the MIAA in passing yards (291.8 ypg) and total offense (298.8 ypg). For his career, Abenoja has completed 543 of 886 passes (.612) for 8,174 yards and 70 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 613 net yards to compile 8,787 yards of total offense.

Abenoja has recorded four of the top five single-game passing totals in school history, including a 442-yard passing performance against Lincoln as a junior in 2013 and a 438-yard effort against Emporia State (Oct. 11). He already holds the school’s career completions record, and he also ranks second on Pitt State’s career total offense list with 8,787 yards.

Abenoja broke into the MIAA’s all-time top 10 passing list (he’s currently eighth) and he ranks 10th on the conference top 10 total offense list as well.

PSU Career Passing Yards Comp-Att Yards
1. Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr. 543-886 8174

MIAA Career Passing Yards Comp-Att Yards
1. Eric Czerniewski, UCM, 2006-10 1043-1678 12847

6. Adam Hinspeter, MSSU, 2005-08 842-1368 9016
7. Blake Bolles, NWMSU, 2007-10 662-995 8668
8. Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr. 543-886 8174

PSU Career Passing Touchdowns TDs
1. Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr. 70

PSU Career Total Offense Pass Rush Total
1. Neal Philpot, 2001-04 5831 4337 10168

2. Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr. 8174 613 8787

MIAA Career Total Offense Pass Rush Total
1. Eric Czerniewski, UCM, 2006-10 12847 131 12978

6. Blake Bolles, NWMSU, 2007-10 8537 717 9254
7. Eric Howe, TSU, 1998-2001 9097 -57 9040
8. Adam Hinspeter, MSSU, 2005-08 9016 -135 8881
9. Josh Chapman, MSSU, 1999-2002 5568 3233 8801
10. Anthony Abenoja, 2011-pr. 8174 613 8787

Cushon Leads MIAA in Receiving Yards
unior wide receiver Marquise Cushon recorded his sixth career 100-yard receiving game – and his fifth this season – against Nebraska-Kearney on Oct. 25. The Kansas City, Mo., native caught eight passes for 134 yards against the Lopers.

For the season, Cushon (5-10, 162) has 45 catches for 852 yards (18.9 ypc) and five touchdowns. He currently leads the MIAA and ranks 29th in NCAA Division II in receiving yards (94.7 ypg). Cushon currently ranks 10th on Pitt State’s single season receiving yards chart with 852 yards.

For his career, Cushon has 66 receptions for 1,254 yards (19.0 ypc) and eight touchdowns. He needs nine receiving yards to break into Pitt State’s all-time top 10 list.

Cushon also has 33 carries for 276 rushing yards (8.4 ypc) and he’s compiled 2,351 career all-purpose yards. He has returned returned 16 punts for an 11.5-yard average, currently ranking 28th in Division II in punt return average.

PSU Single Season Receiving Yards Rec Yards
1. Ronnie West, 1991 74 1495

7. Bryan Pray, 2006 40 930
8. Ray Staten, 1992 54 899
9. Kendall Fisher, 2009 47 876
10. Marquise Cushon, 2014 45 852

PSU Career Receiving Yards Rec Yards
1. John Brown, 2011-13 185 3387

9. Wilton Jones, 1976-79 92 1405
10. Jon Thomas, 2008-11 89 1262
Marquise Cushon, 2011-pr. 66 1254

Lutman Continues to Produce Big Numbers
Senior wide receiver Gavin Lutman set both Pitt State and MIAA single game receiving records when he caught 10 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns on Oct. 11 against Emporia State.

Lutman (6-4, 201) bested Kendall Fisher’s Pitt State record of 238 receiving yards set on Oct. 17, 2009, against Emporia State. The Peculiar, Mo., native also topped the MIAA record of 254 yards set by Rod Smith of Missouri Southern on Oct. 19, 1991 against Southwest Baptist.

He followed that game up with a six-catch, 134-yard effort against Northwest Missouri on Oct. 18.

For the season, Lutman has 46 catches for 808 yards (17.6 ypc) and 10 touchdowns, ranking second in the MIAA in receiving yards (89.8 ypg). For his career, Lutman has 106 receptions for 1,680 yards (15.8 ypc) and 15 touchdowns. He climbed to fourth on PSU’s career receiving yards list and he currently is third in career receptions.

PSU Career Receiving Yards Rec Yards
1. John Brown, 2011-13 185 3387

3. Gene Wayenberg, Jr., 1980-81 75 1827
4. Gavin Lutman, 2010, ’12-pr. 106 1680

PSU Career Receptions Rec
1. John Brown, 2011-13 185

2. Ronnie West, 1990-91 123
3. Gavin Lutman, 2010, ’12-pr. 106

Wilson Has Career Night vs. MSSU
Sophomore defensive end Heath Wilson enjoyed a career night in the Gorillas’ win vs. Missouri Southern last Saturday (Nov. 1).

Wilson (6-4, 237) made a game-high 11 tackles (two solo) – a career-best total for the Wagoner, Okla., native. He also forced a fumble and registered a quarterback sack, helping the Gorillas limit the Lions to just 82 net rushing yards (on 42 carries).

For the season, Wilson has made 29 tackles (eight solo) with a team-leading 8.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 QB sacks. He currently is tied for third in the MIAA in QB sacks. For his career, Wilson has posted 58 tackles (15 solo) with 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks.

Frazell Steady in Kicking Game
Senior place kicker Connor Frazell has provided a steady leg to Pitt State’s kicking game the past three seasons.

Frazell (6-0, 183) booted three field goals – from 25, 25 and 34 yards – in the Gorillas’ 23-14 victory vs. Missouri Western on Oct. 4 to earn MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The Iola, Kan., native established a new PSU record by making 14 consecutive field goals – he made the final 10 field goal attempts of the 2013 season and his first four tries in 2014.

For the season, he has converted 15 of 21 field goals. During his three-year career, Frazell has converted 39 of 51 (.764) field goals and 143 of 146 (.979) PATs. He has converted his last 99 consecutive PATs.

PSU Career Field Goals FGs
1. Josh Barcus, 1995-98 44

2. Connor Frazell, 2012-pr. 39

PSU Career Kick Scoring Points
1. Nathan Alleman, 2003-06 401

3. Josh Barcus, 1995-98 287
4. Connor Frazell, 2012-pr. 260

Scouting the Mules
Central Missouri has compiled a 7-2 record through its first nine games. The Mules have posted six consecutive victories to erase a 1-2 start to the season. UCM posted a 48-28 home win over Lindenwood University in its last action on Nov. 1.

The Mules are scoring an MIAA best 36.9 points per game and averaging 453.8 total yards (217.3 rushing, 236.4 passing).

Senior quarterback A.J. Hawk (6-0, 200) has completed 160 of 275 passes for 2,082 yards (231.3 ypg) and 13 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He also has carried the ball 89 times for 38 net yards with seven touchdowns.

Senior running back LaVance Taylor (5-11, 195) has carried the ball 170 times for 1,315 yards (7.7 ypc) and 12 touchdowns, averaging an MIAA best 146.1 yards per game. He also has caught a team-leading 27 passes for 289 yards (10.7 ypc) and one TD to lead th conference in scoring with 13 touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Echols (6-2, 200) has caught 21 passes for a team-leading 495 yards (23.6 ypc) and four TDs, while senior tight end Cullen Rosine (6-5, 255) has 25 grabs for 301 yards (12.0 ypc) and two scores.

Defensively, the Mules are allowing 22.0 points and 388.6 total yards per game (145.4 rushing, 243.1 passing).

Junior linebacker Ricky Spratley (6-2, 225) has made a team-leading 78 tackles (37 solo) with 7.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 quarterback sacks.

Junior defensive end Jason Venckus (6-4, 255) has 43 stops (22 solo) with a team-leading 12.5 TFLs and 4.5 QB sacks, while senior free safety Connor Smith (6-1, 200) leads the squad with four interceptions and four pass break-ups.

Senior kicker Will Mondragon (5-11, 200) has converted 10 of 14 field goals and 38 of 40 PATs on the season. Sophomore Garrett Fugate (6-3, 210) has punted 29 times for a 40.0 yard average with five kicks inside the opponent 20 yard line.