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Gorillas Prep for Finale vs. MSSU



PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will close out the regular season Saturday (Nov. 11) by hosting MIAA rival Missouri Southern State University. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (CST) at Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium.

Pitt State enters Saturday's contest with a 6-4 record. The Gorillas have won four straight games including a 35-13 road win over the University of Nebraska-Kearney in their most recent action last Saturday (Nov. 4). Pitt State knocked off previously No. 1 ranked Northwest Missouri State University on Oct. 28, snapping the Bearcats 38-game winning streak. The Gorillas became the first Division II team to reach 700 all-time victories with a 26-10 home win over Missouri Western State University on Oct. 14.

Pitt State became just the 33rd team across all levels of NCAA football to reach 700 all-time wins (see graphic, page 2).

MSSU is 0-10 on the season. The Lions dropped a 37-17 home decision to Lindenwood University last Saturday (Nov. 4) at Joplin, Mo.

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his eighth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 66-27 (.710) 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. Last year, the Gorillas battled key injuries once again and Pitt State posted a 7-4 season.

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. MSSU. He is 6-1 vs. the Lions.

Denver Johnson is in his third season directing the Lions program after serving four years as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Tulsa. Johnson (Tulsa, '81) has 15 years of experience as a head coach, including three years at Murray State (1997-99) and nine seasons at Illinois State (2000-08). He has a 72-95 (.431) career record, including a 3-29 (.094) mark at Southern. This will be his third meeting vs. Pitt State. He is 0-2 vs. the Gorillas.

The Pitt State-Missouri Southern Series
This will be the 49th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Lions in a series that dates back to the 1968 season – Southern's first year as a four-year school. Pitt State holds a commanding 39-9-1 advantage in the series.

The Gorillas are 20-3-1 vs. the Lions in Pittsburg.

Last year, the Pitt State defense returned interceptions for touchdowns on back-to-back fourth quarter possessions to  help propel the Gorillas to a 45-31 victory over Southern on Nov. 12, 2016.

Freshman safety Creighton Sanders jumped an errant Brayden Scott pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 38-21 Gorillas lead with 9:52 to play. Two minutes later, redshirt freshman safety Will Bazzle IV snared a Scott pass and returned it 65 yards for another TD and a 45-21 cushion.

Junior quarterback Ramsey Hamilton scored a pair of short rushing touchdowns in the contest, while sophomore quarterback John Roderique added a rushing score.

Roderique completed 21 of 37 passes for 223 yards. He added 28 yards on the ground.

Senior running back Dre Holman carried the ball 21 times for 79 yards, while junior wide receiver Austin Panko added six carries for 75 yards. Redshirt freshman running back Keynan Scheurich added 28 ground yards and a score.

Senior wide receiver Levi Copelin caught five passes for 60 yards to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark for the season. He finished the regular season with 60 catches for 1,012 yards.

Scott completed 23 of 46 passes for 313 yards and one touchdown in the game for the Lions. He added a pair of rushing scores and gained 87 yards on the ground.

Junior linebacker Ethan Fugitt made a game-high 12 tackles for the Gorillas, while senior linebacker Spencer Brown made nine stops to climb to eighth on Pitt State's all-time tackles chart with 318 tackles.

Gorillas at Home
Pitt State holds a 348-130-12 (.722) record in 490 games inside Carnie Smith Stadium (including postseason). The Gorillas have won 148 of their last 173 regular season home games, posting a 148-24-1 record (.858) over the last 33 seasons.

Southern is 1-15 (.063) in road games since the start of the 2015 season.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 294 of its last 356 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 294-60-2 (.829) mark during the past 33 seasons (1985-2017). PSU is 157-24-1 at home, 133-27-1 on the road and 4-9-0 at neutral sites in the regular season during that span.

All-Time Winningest Programs
Pittsburg State is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II football program. The Gorillas, who are in their 110th season of intercollegiate competition, have compiled a 703-346-48 overall record, winning 66.3 percent of their 1,097 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 (see graphic, page 2).

Tuskegee is second on the Division II all-time list with 685 victories, followed by Hillsdale (628), Carson-Newman (625) and Central Oklahoma (623).

MSSU has a 240-270- 7 (.471) 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 13 seasons (2005-17), the Pitt State offense has generated 830 scoring drives (687 TDs, 143 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    42 scoring drives (28 TDs, 14 FGs)    3:32 elapsed time
2011    78 scoring drives (60 TDs, 18 FGs)    2:54 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 72 times (61 TDs, 11 FGs) in the last 153 games, posting a 64-8 (.889) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 45-36 (.556) in games it doesn't score on its opening drive during the same span.

Inside The Pitt State Offense / Defense
Senior running back Michael Rose rushed for a career-high 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Emporia State on Oct 21. He became the first Pitt State back since 2008 to record a 200-yard rushing game. The Albuquerque, N.M., native has 177 carries for 869 yards (4.9 ypc) on the season, averaging 96.6 rushing yards per game. He currently ranks third in the MIAA in rushing yards. For his career, Rose has gained 2,127 yards on 411 carries (5.2 ypc) with 18 touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Austin Panko has amassed 108 career receptions for 1,641 yards (15.2 ypc) and 13 touchdowns. The Lee's Summit, Mo., entered the Gorillas' all-time top 10 list for receiving yards following the Washburn game on Sept. 30 and he currently ranks seventh on the list. Panko also broke into Pitt State's top 10 list for career receptions against NSU on Sept. 16. His 108 receptions currently ranks fifth all-time at PSU.

Junior safety Marcus Brantley posted a team-leading eight tackles (seven solo) with 3.0 tackles-for-loss last week vs. UNK (Nov. 4). The Tempe, Ariz., native has made a team-leading 63 tackles (39 solo) on the season with 6.5 tackles-for-loss, two pass break-ups and two fumble recoveries. Brantley earned honorable mention NJCAA All-America honors as a sophomore at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College last year.

Freshman safety Morgan Selemaea was named MIAA co-Defensive Player of the Week Monday (Nov. 6) after he made six tackles (five solo), 3.0 quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles in the Gorillas' road win over Nebraska-Kearney last Saturday. The Harrisonville, Mo., native has made 28 tackles (20 solo) and an MIAA leading 8.0 quarterbacks on the season.

Sophomore placekicker Jared Vincent was selected the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 23 after booting a pair of field goals against ESU. The Claremore, Okla., native converted a 31-yard field goal with 7:27 remaining in the game to give Pitt State a three-possession lead over ESU on the fourth play after the game was resumed Sunday following an overnight weather delay. For the season, he has made 14 of 16 field goals (.875) and 30 of 33 PAT tries (.909), scoring a team-leading 72 points (7.2 ppg). Vincent leads the MIAA and ranks fifth in Division II in field goal percentage. He ranks second in the MIAA and14th in Division II in field goals (1.4 pg).

Scouting the Lions
Junior quarterback Brayden Scott directs the MSSU offense. Scott (6-3, 215) has completed 76 of 164 passes (.474) for 982 yards (98.2 ypg) and nine touchdowns with nine interceptions. He also has carried the ball 54 times for 239 yards (4.4 ypc) and four scores.

Senior running back Josh Hadley (5-11, 203) has rushed the ball 104 times for 492 yards (4.7  ypc) and one touchdown, while redshirt freshman running back Shemar Coleman (5-11, 190) has carried the ball 68 times for 270 yards (4.0 ypc).

Sophomore wide receiver Josiah Bennett (6-7, 220) has caught 29 passes for 359 yards (12.4 ypc) and three touchdowns, while junior wide receiver Dante Vandeven (5-11, 170) has 23 grabs for 305 yards (13.31 ypc) and two scores. Vandeven also has completed 82 of 156 passes for 782 yards (78.2 ypg) and seven touchdowns with six interceptions at quarterback.

The MSSU offense is averaging 17.1 points and 302.3 total yards (190.8 passing).

Sophomore safety Alexander Wade (5-11, 187) has made a team-leading 85 tackles (45 solo) with one interception, while sophomore linebacker Roc Robbins (6-1, 215) has posted 68 tackles (35 solo) with 10.5 TFLs and 5.5 quarterback sacks.
As a unit, the MSSU defense is allowing 46.0 points, 535.2 total yards and 264.1 rushing yards per game.

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