The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 26, 2014

Defense dominates in PSU spring football game

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State’s offense has rolled up some gaudy numbers in recent seasons.

With that in mind, the final score — White 7, Red 6 — in Saturday morning’s spring intrasquad game at Carnie Smith Stadium came as a surprise.

“We would have liked to see a few more points, but sometimes that happens when you draft teams like this,” Gorillas coach Tim Beck said. “You have guys offensively playing next to people they are not really used to playing with. That messes things up a little bit, but we would have liked to see a little more continuity offensively.

“But, the positive side is the defense was pretty good on both sides.”

Isaac Maselera of the White team intercepted a pass on the final play to preserve the victory, and he almost broke the return for a touchdown. Had that happened, the defenses would have reached the end zone more than the offenses.

“We’re not excited about that,” Beck said with a laugh.

The offenses combined for 288 total yards, and more than half of it was 146 passing yards by the Red quarterback Thomas LePage on 15-of-20 accuracy. Anthony Abenoja, the returning starting quarterback, played the first series in each half for the Red and went 1-for-5 through the air for four yards.

There was 49 rushing yards by the White, 37 by the Red, and 17 series ended in punts.

On the last play of the first half, LePage hit a diving Austin Panko with a 47-yard touchdown strike, and Chad Levin kicked the extra point. Panko made five catches for 91 yards.

The Red defense scored in the fourth quarter when Alex White scooped up a fumble and returned it 53 yards. The Red went for the 2-point conversion, but quarterback Ramsey Hamilton was stopped as tackle Mark Hefley led the defensive surge.

“The main thing is to see them play really fast,” Beck said. “At times at the beginning of spring, we were really fast. And there were some times you could see they were like OK, we know now we’re not preparing for a game, so they slowed down a little bit.

“But today was pretty good as far as pace. The speed was pretty good. We were doing some different things with cadence, and I think we jumped offsides 11 times last week. We weren’t quite as bad today, but we have to get that cleaned up.

“We had 19 guys who didn’t play today (because of injuries). That always gives some other guys some opportunities to get some quality video on and for us to evaluate them.”

Beck, preparing for his fifth year as the Gorillas’ head coach, is pleased with the progress the Gorillas made during their allotted 15 spring practices.

“There are definitely some things we need to work on,” Beck said. “The offseason was really good. We have a lot more quality practices in this year than we did a year ago at this time.”

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