#23 Pitt State Aims for 9th Straight Win at NSU - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

#23 Pitt State Aims for 9th Straight Win at NSU



PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will seek its ninth consecutive victory dating back to the 2017 season Saturday (Sept. 15) when the Gorillas travel to Tahlequah, Okla., to face MIAA rival Northeastern State University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (CDT) at Doc Wadley Stadium.

Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, has accumulated 707 victories, posting a 707-346-48 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 34-13 road win over Emporia State University on Sept. 6.

The Gorillas posted an 8-4 record in 2017 with six straight victories to end the year including a 48-31 win in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl over Arkansas Tech University in the season finale.

Northeastern State is 0-2 on the young season. The RiverHawks dropped a 34-7 decision to Emporia State in their home opener on Aug. 30 and NSU fell, 62-10, on the road against No. 21 University of Central Missouri last Thursday (Sept. 6).

The Coaches
Tim Beck is in his ninth season as head coach at Pitt State. He has compiled a 70-27 (.722) 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 seventh meeting vs. the RiverHawks.  He is 6-0 vs. NSU.

Rob Robinson is in his fifth season directing the RiverHawks program, after serving as an assistant coach at MIAA rival Washburn University for 12 seasons.  Robinson (William Jewell, 2000) has a 6-40-0 (.130) record leading NSU. He is 0-4 all-time vs. Pitt State.

The Pitt State-NSU Series
This will be the 34th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the RiverHawks in a series that dates back to the 1912 season.

Pitt State holds a 19-12-2 advantage in the series. The Gorillas have won the only seven contests between the two schools since 1970.

Last year, Pitt State blocked two punts, scored on a long punt return and added a defensive score as the Gorillas rolled to a 68-21 victory over NSU on Sept. 16 at Doc Wadley Stadium. The Gorillas scored the game's first 31 points against the RiverHawks.

Marcus Brantley returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown and Paul Davis returned a blocked punt 17 yards for a score in the second quarter as Pitt State broke open a 10-0 game. Austin Panko also scampered 73 yards for a fourth quarter punt return touchdown.

Juanté Baldwin registered both blocked punts for the Gorillas, while Demetrius Bernard forced the fumble Brantley returned for a score.

Quarterback Thomas LePage passed for 174 yards and three touchdowns. He tossed a 10-yard strike to Slade Nordic for the game's first points and added a 23-yard connection to Panko and a 37-yard score to Lorenzo West.

The Pitt State defense limited the RiverHawks to 60 net rushing yards, registering five quarterback sacks. Josh Hornback led the Gorillas with eight tackles. Simanu'a Thomas made a pair of quarterback sacks in the contest.

Gorillas on the Road
Pitt State has posted an 85-27-0 (.759) record in its last 112 road games (including post-season play). The Gorillas are 32-6 (.842) in their last 38 road games dating back to Oct. 23, 2010.

Pitt State posted a school and MIAA record 20 straight road wins between the 2010 and 2014 seasons before dropping a 24-21 overtime decision to Minnesota State in the second round of the NCAA-II playoffs on Nov. 29, 2014.

During the last 25 years (1994-pres.), the Gorillas are an equally impressive 96-29-1 (.766) on the road.

PSU's Regular Season Success
Pitt State has won 297 of its last 359 regular season games, posting a phenomenal 297-60-2 (.830) mark during the past 34 seasons (1985-2018). PSU is 159-24-1 at home, 134-27-1 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 241 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 184 of 241 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season). The Gorillas made their debut in the NCAA Division II Top 25 poll Monday at No. 23 after receiving votes in the preseason and week one polls.

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 707-346-48 overall record, winning 66.4 percent of their 1,101 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 686 victories, followed by Hillsdale (630), Carson-Newman (626) and Central Oklahoma (625).

NSU has a 445-432-30 (.507) record in 96 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 851 scoring drives (705 TDs, 144 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    7 scoring drives (6 TDs, 1 FGs)       4:11 elapsed time

The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 73 times (62 TDs, 11 FGs) in the last 156 games, posting a 65-8 (.890) 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 23rd start under center for the Gorillas against ESU last week. Roderique competed 11 of 22 passes for 220 yards and two TDs against the Hornets. The Webb City, Mo., native has passed for 5,003 yards and 34 touchdowns in 26 career games for the Gorillas. He also has rushed for 1,138 yards and 15 TDs, compiling 6,141 yards of total offense (236.2 ypg) and accounting for 49 touchdowns. Roderique became just the fifth QB in Pitt State history to eclipse 5,000 career passing yards.

Junior wide receiver Lorenzo West caught five passes for a career-high 120 yards against ESU last week. The Lawton, Okla., native has a team-leading nine grabs for 198 yards and one TD on the season, leading the MIAA in receiving yards (99.0 ypg) to date. He has made 54 receptions for 792 career yards (14.7 ypc) and six 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 76 yards and a TD against the Hornets last week. Clemons, the 2016 MIAA Freshman of the Year, has made 59 career receptions for 819 yards (13.9 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

Junior cornerback KiAnte Hardin continues to impress in all three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams. Hardin, an NCAA Division I transfer from the University of Minnesota who redshirted at PSU in 2017, caught a 15-yard TD pass as a wide receiver and hauled in a fourth-quarter interception as a cornerback for the Gorillas against ESU. The Webb City, Mo., native returned a punt 59 yards for a TD in the season opener vs. UCO. He's averaging 22.5 yards per punt return on the season, leading the MIAA and ranking seventh in Division II.

Sophomore safety Morgan Selemaea registered a pair of quarterback sacks against ESU last week. The Harrisonville, Mo., native led the MIAA in sacks as a true freshman in 2017, posting 8.0 QB sacks in 10 games. Selemaea has made 49 career tackles with 11.0 tackles-for-loss and 10.0 QB sacks, two pass break-ups and one interception.

Scouting the RiverHawks
Sophomore quarterback Cade Yeager directs the NSU offense. Yeager (6-1, 210) has completed 31 of 60 passes for 299 yards (149.5 ypg) and one touchdown on the young season.

Junior wide receiver Ryheem Brummitt (5-11, 180) has been Yeager's favorite target, catching a team-leading 10 passes for 122 yards (12.2 ypc) and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Callen Houston (5-10, 160) also has made six grabs for 58 yards to date.

Freshman running back Craig Davis (5-9, 180) has carried the ball 13 times for 53 yards (4.1 ypc) and one touchdown to lead the RiverHawks' ground gainers. Sophomore Tre'Von Overstreet (6-1, 225) also has 18 carries for 40 yards (2.2 ypc) to date.

NSU is averaging 74.5 rushing yards and 231.0 total yards per game. The RiverHawks are scoring 8.5 points per game.

Defensively, NSU is allowing 48.0 points, 265.5 rushing yards and 494.5 total yards per game.

Junior linebacker Lane Yoder (6-1, 205) has made a team-leading 13 tackles (seven solo) on the season while sophomore cornerback Ja'len Evans (5-10, 175) has posted 12 tackles (seven solo) and one interception.

Freshman Brady Ellsworth (5-8, 165) has punted 16 times for a 36.7-yard average. He's also connected on his only field goal try of the season.

Davis is averaging 20.0 yards on kickoff returns, while sophomore Jordan Price (5-10, 180) is averaging 15.6 yards.

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