There will be a sense of urgency when No. 18 Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State collide Saturday at 2 p.m. in Hays.
The Gorillas (5-1) are coming off a 31-7 home loss to Northwest Missouri. The Gorillas' goals are still within reach, but another loss during the last five weeks would put their MIAA title and NCAA playoff hopes in jeopardy.
The Tigers (4-2) cannot lose another game if they hope to return to the NCAA playoffs. One week ago the Tigers lost 28-24 at Emporia State after leading 17-7 through three quarters. The Hornets won the game on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds remaining.
The loss to the Bearcats hasn't affected the Gorillas' preparation this week.
"All uptempo, positivity going around," defensive end Simanu'a Thomas said. "It could get hard sometimes, losing a big one like that at home and everyone starts questioning each other. Coach (Nate) Dreiling has had us practicing hard. Coach (Josh Lattimer) with the D-line ... everyone has been going hard. I feel like everybody took responsibility for how they played. Coach Dreiling made sure to let everyone know what we needed to fix."
What needs to be fixed?
"Things like wrapping up ... we missed 20 tackles and it went for like 100-plus yards extra," Thomas said. "You can't play like that and expect to win."
"We didn't play good in all three phases of the game last week," Gorillas coach Tim Beck said. "We had been pretty dominant in special teams ... didn't play good there. We had some critical errors in our special teams. Defensively, missed tackles. Offensively, some miscommunication slash penalties. You put the three together, you're not going to beat a team like Northwest. We had a bad day from the get-go, and it got worse, then it got worse."
Scouting Fort Hays State, "They have eight or nine returning starters on defense from a year ago," Beck said. "They are extremely good on defense. They are talented at the skill positions offensively. I see a really good team that's going to be a great challenge for us."
Beck said backup quarterback B.J. Bradbury, who did not play last week because of an elbow injury, is available Saturday.
But wide receiver-defensive back-kick returner KiAnte Hardin will not play after suffering a knee injury last week. He should return to action before the end of the season.
PSU at Fort Hays State
Kickoff: 2 p.m.
Site: Lewis Field Stadium, Hays, Kan.
Records: PSU 5-1, FHSU 4-2
Coaches: Tim Beck, 9th year at PSU (73-28). Chris Brown, 8th year at FHSU (53-33). Brown is a former All-American free safety for the Gorillas from 1992-95. The Tigers' defensive coordinator Cooper Harris and defensive line coach Ike Eguae also played for PSU.
Series: PSU leads 46-20-9 after a 21-17 road loss last season. The Gorillas are 22-11-6 on the road against the Tigers.
Radio: KSHQ (100.7 FM), KWXD (103.5 FM), 1 p.m.