CANYON, Texas — The Pittsburg State football team capped its abbreviated 2020 campaign on a high note.
In their most well-rounded performance of the season, the Gorillas generated more than 500 yards of offense and forced four turnovers en route to a 42-28 win over West Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon at Buffalo Stadium.
PSU pulled away from a 21-21 tie by closing on a 21-7 run in the final 32 minutes of play, securing a 2-2 record in its first season under head coach Brian Wright. The Buffalos, meanwhile, saw their two-game win streak snapped and finished the season 3-3.
Gorillas quarterback Man Sexton, a sophomore, completed 21 of 30 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. His first passing touchdown of the game — a 17-yard strike to redshirt freshman Dylan White, a Pittsburg High School product — gave PSU a 28-21 lead at halftime.
The Pitt State defense came up big at the end of the first half when Morgan Selemaea popped running back Brandon Blair at the PSU 1-yard line, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Gorillas’ Jeffrey Fordjour to halt a scoring threat.
Out of the break, the Gorillas went on a 10-play, 57-yard drive that was capped by a 13-yard touchdown run by senior running back Tyler Adkins, extending the lead to 35-21 with 10:18 remaining in the third quarter.
Adkins was PSU’s leading rusher with 104 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. The Gorillas amassed 248 yards via the run as a team, with Tucker Horak chipping in 69 yards, Drew Winn 52 yards and Sexton 23 yards.
West Texas went on a three-play, 75-yard scoring drive to pull to within 35-28 with 9:01 left in the third quarter. However, the Buffalos came up empty handed on their two remaining drives, fumbling away one possession and turning the ball over on downs on the other.
Junior wide receiver Bryce Murphy, a Neosho High School alum, accounted for the Gorillas’ final score on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Sexton. The touchdown gave PSU a two-score cushion, 42-28, with 13:54 remaining in the game.
Murphy made eight receptions for a game-high 137 yards, while Jalen Martin added six grabs for 70 yards.
The Gorillas jumped out to a quick lead as they went 70 yards in six plays for a touchdown. Sexton capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run that put his team up 7-0 at the 13-mark of the opening quarter.
About a minute later, the PSU lead grew to 14-0 after senior linebacker and Webb City native Kaden Roy recovered a fumble and went 48 yards on the return for a touchdown.
The Buffalos scored two straight touchdowns to tie the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter, but the PSU offense responded with a 12-play, 82-yard drive that was punctuated by a one-yard touchdown run by Adkins to reclaim the lead at 21-14.
On defense, safety Brandon Mlekus made a team-leading 12 tackles for the Gorillas. Linebacker Selemaea added eight stops and the forced fumble, and linebacker Alex Gaskill, another Webb City product, posted four tackles and an interception in the contest.