PITTSBURG, Kan. —
By Ryan Atkinson
The Pittsburg State defensive line faced what will likely be, literally, one of its biggest tests of the season in Saturday’s 28-20 homecoming win over Abilene Christian.
ACU’s starting offensive line averaged 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. None of the 10 linemen on ACU’s two-deep was lighter than 290 pounds.
But the Gorillas continually got pressure on ACU quarterback John David Baker and forced the Wildcats to retreat to a game plan full of short passing routes.
A big reason for that? Conditioning, PSU defensive end Avery Adair said.
“We prepared pretty good for it,” the 6-foot-5, 228-pound junior said. “We knew they were going to be the biggest offensive line we’ve seen so far. But on film they kind of showed that they tired ... by the second half.
“All week we were practicing going fast, going hard. Then we’d take a break and keep going hard. I think we were well prepared. They were fatigued and we kept going.”
When ACU’s Tyler Chapa picked off Anthony Abenoja’s first-quarter pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, it marked the first time this season the Gorillas had trailed.
It seemed to bring out the best in the Gorillas
The offense responded well, scoring on its next drive, and the defense allowed just two scores the rest of the day.
In fact, it almost made the game a little more fun for the Gorilla defense.
“On defense we stepped up and were excited for the challenge,” junior safety Jason Peete said. “We actually looked at it with good eyes. It just so happened our offense came right back down and made something happen. We were kind of excited to have some adversity on defense like that.”
Whose idea was this?
Most schools schedule what appears to be a sure-win for homecoming.
That definitely wasn’t the case this year at Pitt State. Instead, the Gorillas invited the Wildcats — a transitioning NCAA Division I FCS team — into Carnie Smith Stadium.
After the Gorillas knocked off the Texas school, head coach Tim Beck could laugh about it.
“We’re not very smart, to begin with. It wasn’t a very good idea,” he said. “We wanted to step up a little bit in competition ... it worked out for us to play a really quality opponent. They’ve got some speed on their team. To be able to rise up and get a win on homecoming was a big deal for our team.”