PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State’s annual spring football game came down to the final play.

The Gorilla defense earned a safety and defeated the offense 53-51 Saturday morning at Carnie Smith Stadium.

The controlled offense vs. defense scrimmage had scoring systems for both sides. The offense could generate points in the usual way on scoring plays plus plays longer than 20 yards, and the defense earned points for turnovers, tackles for loss, quarterback sacks, forced punts and fourth-down conversion stops.

The offense began drives from various points on the field during the scrimmage, and the last series began at the 1-yard line. Quarterback Matt Harman dropped into the end zone but stepped on the end line for a safety, breaking the 51-51 tie.

While he is an offensive coach, Gorillas head coach Brian Wright was OK with the defense winning.

“It’s going to take great defense here to win championships,” Wright said. “So I’m always excited to see our defense do a great job.

“Today I didn’t like seeing us turn the ball over on offense, but on the flip side it’s great to see our defense be able to create some of those turnovers.”

The PSU offense had two touchdowns through the air as quarterback Chad Dodson Jr. hit Jalen Martin and Jack Roberts for scores. Freshman placekicker Jaden Snyder capped another drive with a 20-yard field goal.

Three quarterbacks combined to throw for 365 yards. Dodson, a freshman, completed 12 of 17 passes for 106 yards. Sophomore Mak Sexton was 13 of 19 for 137 yards and an interception, and Harman, a junior, hit 10 of 14 attempts for 122 yards and two interceptions.

“We have a lot of little things to still clean up, and that’s what practice is for,” Wright said. “That’s what the spring is for. We’re growing, we’re developing, we’re getting better.”

Injuries always are a concern during spring games, and sophomore offensive tackle Michael Toney was carted off the field with a leg injury.

“That was a tough one,” Wright said. “But he’s tough, and he’ll be back. But other than that, I think we came out pretty healthy. and in spring ball to this point, we’ve been pretty healthy.”

Normally the spring game marks the end of spring workouts, but the Gorillas have another week of practice.

“This was really only practice No. 11,” Wright said. “We purposely wanted it to be today, and we wanted to be able to come back another week just to create some focus on our team after a game week.”

Wright, who had a two-practice spring and four games last fall thanks to COVID-19, likes what he’s seen this spring.

“Our team has made a commitment to work really hard to get this thing back to where we’d all like to see it be,” he said. “We have a long ways to go and a lot of things to clean up fundamentally and from a scheme standpoint. But you can’t ask for a better group of guys right now.”

Follow Sports Editor Jim Henry on Twitter at @Jim_Henry53.

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