PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University will try to play more of a clean game this upcoming week when the Gorillas play Emporia State University on Saturday.
Slated for 7 pm in Pittsburg at Carnie Smith Stadium, the Gorillas (1-0) will try to play more of a complete game versus implacable foe Emporia State University (1-0) than what they did last week: In the first game of the year — after increasing the score to 34-7 versus Central Oklahoma in the second quarter on Sept. 5 — Pittsburg would give up 28 consecutive points in the second half, including a fumble recovery scooped up by Central Oklahoma’s senior linebacker Dillon Hall, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to put his team up 35-34 with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Pittsburg coughed up four fumbles in the second half, but still managed to win 37-35 thanks to kicker Jared Vincent’s 20-yard field goal as time expired.
Despite a huge performance from Pittsburg freshman quarterback Mak Sexton in the last drive of the game — he went 5 of 7 for 60 yards on the drive before producing an overall 10 of 15 for 113 yards – as well as good outings from 2018 All-MIAA junior running back Tyler Adkins with his 17 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, and starting sophomore quarterback Brandon Mlekus with his 13 rushes for 68 yards, Pittsburg head coach Tim Beck said he wants to clean up the turnovers.
“It’s something that you are concerned about, especially going into the game,” Beck said after earning his 77th win in his coaching career. “Then we got to halftime and we haven’t turned it over and haven’t punted yet, and I thought things were going pretty smooth. Then I talked about how we have to go win the second half 0-0, new start, then we came out and didn’t play very well in the second half. We just had some negative momentum kind of rolling downhill against us, and we had a hard time getting out of it. But the good thing is we played hard and played hard enough that we drove the ball down the field and got a field goal. Some of our kids were upset in the locker room after the game. I told them we have to be excited that we won the game. And that’s what practice is for. We will fix those things in practice.”
The Gorillas will be facing a team in ESU that dominated Northeastern State University in a 51-14 blowout in their home opener, though Pittsburg has won two straight over ESU over the last two years, including a 34-13 blowout just last year. Key contributors for ESU were sophomore quarterback Dalton Cowan (261 yards passing, 88 yards rushing and three touchdowns), freshman receiver Dexton Swinehart (five catches for 112 yards and a touchdown) and sophomore receiver Corey Thomas (seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown).
Beck said he respects the ESU offense and plans on stopping the attack by staying sound.
“They’re very explosive offensively, they always have been,” Beck said. “Thought they wouldn’t have been quite as good this year since they lost so many players on offense, but they picked up right where they left off from last year. The quarterback does a nice job; he’s definitely a threat to scramble, so we will have to try and keep him in the pocket. And they just continue to find ways to score points.”
On defense, ESU limited Northeastern all game, but in the first half they forced three and outs on every possession. Pittsburg ascribes their success to having talented players, and on offense, Beck said he wants to use these players to the best of their ability.
“We’re just going to run the ball. We have to grind out first downs as best as we can and hopefully our defense can cause some three and outs ,” Beck continued.