After battling back and forth down the stretch for wins in the first two weeks of the season, No. 18 Pittsburg State found sledding to be much easier against Northeastern State last Saturday.
The Gorillas (3-0) jumped out early with 24 points in the first and second quarters for a sizable halftime lead. Pittsburg State went on to defeat the RiverHawks 58-3, a dominating win the team needed.
“I think (that win) was good for us in many ways,” Pittsburg State coach Tim Beck said. “It was good for us to get off to a good start in all three phases. We were able to rest some guys who play a lot. You also get to play a lot of guys who don’t get as many plays, getting them some action to see what they can do, allowing us to evaluate them.”
With the MIAA schedule consisting of daunting matchups for 11 consecutive weeks, having a chance to rest players, while getting other players more game action, in a convincing win is crucial for any team.
“The season can be a little bit of a grind,” Beck said. “We are trying to keep people as fresh as we can. We are trying to be smart in what we do in the weight room, and what we are doing with conditioning. All of those things kind of factor it. Being able to cut some plays down on guys, while getting others more reps is definitely good for us.”
The Gorillas turn their attention to Nebraska-Kearney (2-1), with the Lopers coming off a 31-21 win at Emporia State.
Kearney is putting up 31 points per game, rushing for 300 yards on average and passing for 175. The Lopers have four rushers with more than 150 yards and two with more than 200. David Goodwin leads the team with 248 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. TJ Davis has 212 yards and three touchdowns in 33 touches. Alex McGinnis has completed 27-of-45 passes for 482 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think our speed, getting sideline to sideline, covering a lot of ground quickly is something we pride ourselves on,” said PSU linebacker Kaden Roy, a Webb City product. “I think it will come into play (against Kearney) more than we think. Getting to our spots as quickly as possible will have a huge impact.”
Kearney is giving up 25 points per game, limiting teams to 105 rushing yards per game, while allowing 237 passing yards.
“They are one of the top teams in the conference at stopping the run,” Beck said. “Going against their offense in the spring and fall has helped their defense. They are fast and physical, those are two traits that stick out to me about their defense.”
Pittsburg State and Nebraska-Kearney is scheduled to kick off at 7 tonight at Ron and Carol Cope Stadium.