PITTSBURG, Kan. - The Pittsburg State Gorillas will try to stay undefeated this weekend, hosting the Lincoln Blue Tigers in their annual "Hall of Fame Game."
The Gorillas are currently ranked #15 in the nation with a 4-0 overall record, while Lincoln is 0-4 heading into week five.
The Pitt State defensive line group has come up big for the Gorillas this season. Through four games, eight different players on the defensive line have registered at least one sack.
"It's very rare that you have four defensive tackles that you feel like can play," says head coach Tim Beck, "Being able to rotate the guys on the defensive line and keep them fresh is extremely important. They're all doing a really good job right now and that's obviously a big piece to our success."
"Those guys can pass rush, and me and Ned can shut down the run," says Pitt State defensive end Levi Wyrick, "It's a lot of fun knowing that you can have the confidence in the guys who are there with you. They're going to get the job done too."
RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:
The Pittsburg State University football team will return to the friendly confines of Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Saturday (Oct. 5) to face MIAA rival Lincoln University.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (CDT) in the Gorillas' Hall of Fame Game. The PSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019 includes former gridiron standouts Bill Presson (halfback, 1957-61) and Jeff Moreland (quarterback, 1991-95) as well as the 2004 Pitt State National Runner-Up football squad.
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 717 victories, posting a 717-349-48 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 then notched back-to-back home wins over Emporia State University (47-23) on Sept. 14 and Northeastern State University (58-3) on Sept. 21 before posting a 37-14 road win over the University of Nebraska-Kearney last Saturday (Sept. 28).
Pitt State climbed three spots to No. 15 in this week's AFCA/NCAA Division II Top 25 poll following the Gorillas road win over the Lopers. [for complete poll, see page 5]
Lincoln is winless through its first four games of the season. The Blue Tigers, who have been outscored 200-48 to date, dropped a 50-7 home decision to Emporia State last Saturday (Sept. 28) at Jefferson City, Mo.
Tim Beck is in his 10th season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled an 80-30 (.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.
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 fourth meeting vs. the Blue Tigers. He is 3-0 vs. LU.
Malik Hoskins is in his first year as interim head coach at Lincoln after serving as the Blue Tigers offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.
A 23-year coaching veteran, Hoskins served at Lane University from 2008-15, serving as the offensive coordinator and later as the interim head coach. Before coming to Lincoln, Hoskins worked at Bacone College in 2016. This will be his first meeting vs. Pitt State.
The Pitt State-Lincoln Series
This will be the 10th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Blue Tigers in a series that dates back to the 1981 season. However, this will be the first match-up between the squads since 2013.
Pitt State holds an unblemished 9-0-0 advantage in the series, averaging a 49-10 victory over Lincoln in those games.
In the last meeting, junior quarterback Tony Abenoja passed for a school record 442 yards and five touchdowns, including four scores to senior wide receiver John Brown, to lead Pitt State to a 59-38 victory over Lincoln at Jeffson City, Mo., on Sept. 28, 2013.
Brown caught nine passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns to become the school's all-time leading receiver, passing Harlon Hill Trophy winner Ronnie West with 2,722 career receiving yards. The Homestead, Fla., native also tied the school record with 27 career receiving touchdowns as well as four receiving touchdowns and five touchdowns overall in the contest.
The Gorilla finished the game with 787 yards of total offense against the Blue Tigers in a game that featured 1,295 combined yards of total offense.
Sophomore running back Jeff Seybold, Jr. also rushed 19 times for a career best 187 yards and two touchdowns as the Gorillas compiled 335 rushing yards in the contest.
Abenoja completed 28 of 36 passes in the contest with the five touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed the ball four times for 21 yards to finish the game with a school record 463 yards of total offense.
Lincoln's Jacob Morris passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns, while Morris Henderson rushed 14 times for 157 yards and a pair of scores. He also caught four passes for 87 yards in the contest.
Gorillas at Home
Pitt State holds a 354-132-12 (.723) record in 498 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 154 of their last 181 regular season home games, posting a 154-26-1 record (.854) over the last 35 seasons.
LU has managed just a 2-48 (.040) record in its last 50 road games dating back to the start of the 2010 season.
PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 307 of its last 370 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 307-63-2 (.832) mark during the past 35 seasons (1985-2019). PSU is 163-26-1 at home, 140-28-1 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 10 118 times in the last 256 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 192 of 256 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 717-349-48 overall record, winning 66.5 percent of their 1,114 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 692 victories, followed by Hillsdale (641), Carson-Newman (635) and Central Oklahoma (635).
LU has a 251-465-25 (.356) record in 90 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 922 scoring drives (755 TDs, 167 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 23 scoring drives (13 TDs, 10 FGs) 2:56 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 75 times (63 TDs, 12 FGs) in the last 160 games, posting a 67-8 (.893) 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 wide receiver Lorenzo West caught four passes for a game-high 100 yards and a TD last week vs. UNK. For the season, West has a team-leading 14 catches for 300 yards (21.4 ypc). The Lawton, Okla., native has made 110 career receptions for 1,708 career yards (15.5 ypc) and 11 touchdowns. He ranks seventh in PSU history in career receiving yards and sixth in career receptions. West, who also averages 41.8 yard per kickoff return, has compiled 3,488 career all-purpose yards.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Mlekus improved to 4-0 as the Gorillas starter. The Frontenac, Kan., native carried the ball 15 times for a game-high 77 yards and he completed three of six passes for 98 yards and a TD against the Lopers. For the season, Mlekus has rushed 49 times for 178 yards (3.6 ypc) and completed 10 of 22 passes (.455) for 245 and three touchdowns.
Senior place kicker Jared Vincent converted three field goals against UNK last week and scored 13 points in the victory over the Lopers. The Claremore, Okla., native is a perfect 13-for-13 on field goal attempts this season. He currently leads NCAA Division II in field goals (3.25 pg) and ranks second nationally in scoring (14.75 ppg). Vincent has converted 39 of 46 (.848) career field goal attempts and 115 of 119 (.966) career PAT tries. A two-time All-MIAA performer, Vincent has scored 222 career points (8.2 ppg).
Senior defensive tackle Simanu'a Thomas made 2.5 quarterback sacks in the home opener vs. ESU. 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 127 career tackles with 34.5 tackles-for-loss and 15.0 quarterback sacks.
Junior safety Morgan Selemaea made four tackles, 1.0 tackle-for-loss and 0.5 quarterback sack vs. UNK last week. The Harrisonville, Mo., native also returned an interception for a touchdown against the Lopers. For the season, Selemaea has 16 tackles (nine solo), 1.5 TFLs, 0.5 QB sack, two interceptions and two PBUs.
Scouting Blue Tigers
Junior quarterback Chancellor Johnson directs the Lincoln offense. Johnson (6-6, 230) has completed 30 of 66 passes (.455) for 253 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions in the Blue Tigers first four games. He also has carried the ball 34 times for 106 net yards (3.1 ypc).
Sophomore wide receiver Dre'Shon Alston (6-10, 185) has been Johson's target. He has caught eight passes for 99 yards (12.4 ypc) and two touchdowns. Freshman wide receiver Tori Hicks (5-7, 180) has caught six passes for 36 yards (6.0 ypc) and two touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Hosea Franklin (5-7, 180) has carried the ball 79 times for 570 yards (7.2 ypc) and two touchdowns, averaging 142.5 yards per game. He leads the MIAA and ranks seventh in NCAA Division II in rushing yards to date.
Lincoln is averaging 191.0 rushing yards and 257.0 total yards per game early in the season. The Blue Tigers are scoring 12.0 points per game.
Defensively, LU is allowing 50.0 points, 257.0 rushing yards and 510.5 total yards per game. The Blue Tigers rank 11th in the MIAA in scoring defense and total defense to date.
Senior linebacker Bri'on Sanders (5-10, 190) has made a team-leading 31 tackles (25 solo) with two forced fumbles. He ranks seventh in the MIAA in tackles (7.8 pg).
Senior cornerback Chavon Gross (5-10, 185) made 27 tackles (24 solo), two interceptions and two pass break ups, while sophomore safety Cody Alexander (5-10, 185) had posted 27 tackles (20 solo), two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Freshman Reagan Harrell (5-11, 170) has punted 35 times for a 37.1 yard average, while sophomore Javier Moreno (6-3, 180) is 0-for-1 on field goal attempts and 6-for-7 on PAT tries.
Senior Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (5-10, 180) has averaged 16.9 yards on kickoff returns and 5.2 yards on punt returns to date.
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