Story and photo courtesy of Pittsburg State Athletics
- No. 7 Pittsburg State road the wave of a 28-point second quarter to a 49-23 victory over No. 8 Delta State Saturday (Dec. 10) to advance to the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship.
The Gorillas (12-1) will face unranked Wayne (Mich.) State at Braly Field in Florence, Ala., in the season's ultimate game. The Warriors (12-3) posted their fourth straight road playoff win in their first appearance in the national playoffs to reach the title game, defeating Winston-Salem State, 21-14, Saturday.
John Brown sparked Pitt State early, returning a punt 43 yards for a touchdown after the Gorillas defense forced a quick three-and-out.
Zac Dickey completed 12 of 22 passes for 168 yards and two scores for the Gorillas. He tossed a 30-yard TD pass Jon Thomas as well as a 38-yard scoring strike to Brown in in a two-minute stretch of the second quarter to turn a 14-13 lead into a 28-13 margin.
Eighteen second later following a Delta State fumble, Andrew Castaneda threw a double pass to Levi Kuntzsch for a 36-yard score and a 35-13 lead.
The Statesmen (11-3) couldn't recover in the second half.
The Gorillas overcame five turnovers -- four fumbles and an interception -- to force six takeaways themselves on three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Pitt State also limited Delta State to one of six on fourth down conversions, twice holding the Statesmen in the red zone -- the final time at the PSU 1 with 3:28 to play in the game.
Nate Dreiling logged a game-high 18 tackles with 4.5 TFLs, a quarterback sack, a forced fumble and an interception. He led a Pitt State defense that limited the Statesmen to 58 net rushing yards and forced Harlon Hill Trophy finalist quarterback Micah Davis into a 27-for-58 passing night with four sacks and three interceptions.
Delta State did outgain the Gorillas, 465 to 450 yards, in the contest.
Three Pitt State backs -- Jeff Seybold, Jason Spradling and Dickey -- each gained 55 or more yards rushing. Seybold had a team-leading 58 yards, with Spradling (57) and Dickey (55) close behind.
Pitt State advances to the Division II National Championship game for the fifth time in school history. The Gorillas captured the 1991 national title and finished as the national runner-up in 1992, 1995 and 2004.
After seven years away, the Pittsburg State football team will be returning to the NCAA Divison II National Championship game. The Gorillas earned the right to return to Florence, Ala. with a stunning 49-23 win over Delta State on Saturday (Dec. 10) night.
The Gorillas led only 7-3 after the first quarter, but used their typical second quarter surge to take a 28-13 lead into the locker room at half time. Neither team scored in the third, but PSU came back in the fourth adding 14 points, while Delta State added 10 for the 49-23 final.
Though Delta State gained 15 more yards and ran 40 more plays from scrimmage, the Gorillas offense was helped by a strong defensive effort. Pitt State's defense allowed only one Delta State offensive touchdown and three field goals. The Statesmen's additional score came from a return on a blocked punt. The defense also added a touchdown to the Gorilla scoring effort as Paul Robinson returned an interception 91 yards for a score.
Pitt State's offense was very balanced as the Gorillas ran for 246 yards and passed for 204. Four different players rans for 40 yards or more. Jeff Seybold was Pitt State's leading rusher with five carries for 58 yards, all late in the game. Jason Spradling ran eight times for 57 yards and a score. Quarterback Zac Dickey led the team with 13 carries for 55 yards. Eric Love had two carries for 41 yards.
Dickey was 12-for-22 for 168 yards and two touchdowns passing on the night. He also threw one interception. Drew Castaneda also threw one pass for a strike on the night.