PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State University football team will make its fifth all-time appearance in the NCAA Division II National Championship Game Saturday (Dec. 17) when the Gorillas face Wayne (Mich.) State University at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala.
Kickoff is set for 10:05 a.m. (CST) with the game to be telecast live on ESPN2. Pam Ward will handle the play-by-play call with Dan Hawkins serving as color analyst and Carol Capuano serving as sideline reporter.
The game also will be broadcast online on ESPN3 at http://espn.go.com/espn3/index?id=320340.
Pittsburg State, the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program, posted an emphatic 49-23 victory over Super Region Two champion Delta State in the NCAA-II national semifinals last Saturday (Dec. 10) in Pittsburg.
The Gorillas (12-1), ranked No. 7 in the final regular season AFCA/Division II Top 25 poll, registered their fifth straight home victory in beating the Gulf South Conference champion Statesmen. Pitt State recorded a 31-22 win over No. 15 Washburn in the second round on Nov. 26, after earning a bye in the first-round of the 24-team playoffs as the No. 2 seed in Super Region Four. The Gorillas, who captured the 2011 MIAA Championship with a 9-1 regular season mark, defeated No. 10 NW Missouri State, 41-16, in the national quarterfinals on Dec. 3.
Pitt State has outscored its post-season competition, 121-61.
Wayne State posted a 21-14 victory over previously unbeaten and No. 3 ranked Winston-Salem State in the national semifinals Saturday at Winstom-Salem, N.C. The Warriors (12-3) claimed their fourth straight road victory after initially qualifying as the No. 6 seed in Super Region Three.
Wayne State, the second straight team (Delta State, 2010) to finish the regular season unranked in the final AFCA regular season poll and go on to advance to the NCAA-II National Championship Game, posted road wins over No. 14 St. Cloud State (48-38) on Nov. 19, No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney (38-26) on Nov. 26 and No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth (31-25) on Dec. 3 to reach the semifinals last week.
All reserved seat tickets for the NCAA Division II National Championship Game are $20.
Tickets are available locally at the PSU Ticket Office until 1 p.m. (CST) Wednesday (Dec. 14).
Online ticket sales are available until 12 Noon Wednesday at pittstate.edu/tickets.
For additional ticket information, please call (620) 235-4796 or visit d2championship.com.
Second-year head coach Tim Beck brings an 18-7 (.720) record into Saturday’s NCAA-II National Championship Game vs. Wayne State.
He was selected as the 2011 MIAA Coach of the Year by his peers and he’s a finalist for the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award for Division II.
Beck assumed the helm of his alma mater (PSU, ’88) after serving for 23 seasons as an assistant coach for the Gorillas, including 16 years as the team’s offensive coordinator from 1994-2009.
He was named the school’s 14th all-time head football coach on Dec. 9, 2009. Beck previously served as Assistant Head Coach for two years, after being named to that role on the Pitt State staff on December 13, 2007.
During his 16 seasons as offensive coordinator, the Gorilla offense was consistently ranked among the finest units in NCAA Division II.
In 2008, Beck was selected the inaugural NCAA Division II Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com, following a vote of his coaching peers.
In 2004, Beck’s offensive unit established itself as the most prolific squad in the history of NCAA football. PSU shattered a 118-year-old scoring record, scoring an amazing 837 points (55.8 ppg). His squad also set the NCAA all division records for rushing (5,320 yards) and total offense (8,976 yards).
Beck’s teams led Division II in scoring in two of the last six years (2004, 2006) and ranked in the top two nationally in total offense three times in the last six seasons (2004, 2005, 2006). His squads ranked among the national rushing leaders every season, leading Division II in 1995 (318.8 ypg) and 2004 (354.7 ypg). Beck’s “multiple choice” option attack also compiled 16,483 passing yards (216.9 ypg) and 143 aerial touchdowns during his last six years as OC.
Pitt State averaged a staggering 38.8 points and 442.5 yards of total offense per game during his tenure as offensive coordinator.
Prior to assuming the offensive coordinator’s role, Beck served two years as Pitt State’s defensive coordinator (1992-93). He became a full-time assistant on the Pitt State staff in 1989, after serving first as a student assistant (1987) and then as a graduate assistant (1988).
This will be Beck’s first meeting vs. Wayne State.
Paul Winters is in his eighth season as head coach at Wayne State and his eighth year as a collegiate coach, after previously serving as offensive coordinator at Akron from 1994-2003. Winters (Akron, ’80) has compiled a 48-42 (.533) career record, including an impressive 21-5 (.808) mark the past two seasons while leading WSU to consecutive school record victory totals (nine in 2010, 12 in 2011).
This will be his first meeting vs. Pitt State.
The Pitt State-Wayne State Series
This will be the first meeting between the Gorillas and the Warriors.
In fact, this will be just the second time Pitt State has met an opponent from the current Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
The last time the Gorillas met a GLIAC squad was in the 1957 NAIA National Championship Game. Pit State defeated Hillsdale College on Dec. 21, 1957, in the Holiday Bowl at St. Petersburg, Fla., to capture the school’s first of now three national championships.
Pitt State-Wayne in the NCAA-II Playoffs
Pitt State is making its 17th appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs since joining the NCAA ranks 23 years ago, prior to the 1989 season.
The Gorillas have compiled a 23-15 (.605) mark in the NCAA-II playoffs, including a 17-5 (.773) record at Carnie Smith Stadium in NCAA-II post-season play.
Pitt State captured the 1991 NCAA Division II National Championship and the Gorillas are making their fifth appearance in the National Championship Game (1991-92, 1995, 2004, 2011).
Pitt State is 1-3 in national championships games – all against Gulf South Conference competition.
Wayne State is making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Warriors have run off four straight road playoff victories to reach the title game, becoming just the second team (NW Missouri State, 2005) to win four straight road games to reach Florence.
GLIAC, MIAA Post-Season Stalwarts
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association are widely regarded as the two most potent football-playing conferences in NCAA Division II, and the post-season success bears out that claim.
In the last 27 years, the GLIAC and the MIAA each have produced four national championship squads: GLIAC, Grand Valley State (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006), MIAA, Pittsburg State (1991), NW Missouri State (1998, 1999, 2009).
Either the GLIAC or the MIAA has sent a squad to the NCAA Division II National Championship in 10 of the last 11 seasons. The GLIAC and MIAA have met head-to-head in the national title game three times (2005, 2006, 2009) with the GLIAC coming out on top in two of the three encounters (all between Grand Valley State and NW Missouri State).
Pitt State in the AFCA Top 25 Poll
Pitt State has been ranked in Division II’s top 10 88 times in the last 164 polls and the Gorillas have been ranked in the top 25 poll in 140 of 164 weeks overall (dating back to the 1999 season).
Pitt State snapped an uncharacteristic streak of 22 weeks outside the top 25 when the Gorillas debuted at No. 25 in the first regular season poll of the 2011 season. PSU climbed two spots to No. 7 in the final regular season poll of the 2011 season.
The Gorillas had been ranked among the top 25 teams in the AFCA Top 25 Poll for 106 consecutive weeks, including preseason and final polls, before falling from the national list for the first time on Nov. 6, 2007. Pitt State was the only Division II program to be ranked in all 106 polls since the AFCA began administering the Top 25 poll in 1999.
Ground Game PSU’s Bread and Butter…
Pitt State’s success can be directly linked to its ability to rush the football.
Since the 1986 season, PSU has rushed for 200-plus yards in 273 of 320 overall games. The Gorillas have posted a 242-30-1 (.888) record when they eclipse 200 yards rushing. Pitt State is an even more impressive 134-6-0 (.957) when it eclipses 300 yards rushing.
By contrast, PSU is just 18-28-1 (.394) in the handful of games when it has been held below 200 yards rushing.
Since 1986, PSU has rushed the ball for the highest yardage total among all NCAA Division II programs, with 93,049 yards (including postseason competition) for an average of 290.8 yards per game.
… But Don’t Overlook PSU Passing Attack
While it’s no secret Pitt State’s offensive success has been predicated on running the football, the Gorillas have unleashed a potent passing attack to compliment their stalwart running game.
Since the start of the 2004 season, the Gorillas have passed for 17,891 yards and 153 TDs, averaging 196.6 passing yards and 1.7 touchdown passes per game in the last 91 outings.
Quick Strike Offense
The Pitt State offense has exhibited a penchant for being a “quick strike” unit.
During the last seven seasons (2005-11), the Pitt State offense has generated 472 scoring drives (409 TDs, 63 FGs) and averaged just 2:54 of elapsed time per drive.
2005 97 scoring drives (86 TDs, 11 FGs) 2:40 elapsed time
2006 79 scoring drives (72 TDs, 7 FGs) 2:14 elapsed time
2007 64 scoring drives (55 TDs, 9 FGs) 3:02 elapsed time
2008 69 scoring drives (61 TDs, 8 FGs) 3:23 elapsed time
2009 49 scoring drives (44 TDs, 5 FGs) 3:21 elapsed time
2010 41 scoring drives (34 TDs, 7 FGs) 3:04 elapsed time
2011 73 scoring drives (57 TDs, 16 FGs) 2:54 elapsed time
The Gorillas have been highly successful when they are quick out of the gates. Pitt State has scored on its opening drive 41 times (34 TDs, 7 FGs) in the last 86 games, posting a 39-2 (.951) record in those games. By contrast, Pitt State is 23-22 (.511) in games it doesn’t score on its opening drive during the same span.
While Pitt State has remained a quick strike offensive unit in 2011 – with 23 touchdown drives of 90 seconds or less of elapsed time – the Gorillas also have compiled seven scoring drives of six or more minutes of elapsed time on the year, including an 11:12 drive vs. Washburn on Nov. 26.
For the season, the Gorillas average in time of possession at 32:52.
Pitt State Displays Prolific Offense
The Pitt State offense has asserted itself as one of the top units in NCAA Division II the past eight seasons (2004-11). Pitt State’s high octane “multiple choice” offense ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 nationally in both scoring and total offense in three of the last seven seasons.
In 2004, PSU staked its claim as the most prolific offense in the history of NCAA football, leading Division II in scoring (55.8 ppg), rushing (354.7 ypg) and total offense (598.4 ypg).
Pitt State broke the NCAA’s 118-year-old all-time all division scoring record with 837 points, besting the old mark of 765 points set by Harvard in 1886. The Gorillas also broke the all-time NCAA all division records for rushing (5,320 yards) and total offense (8,976 yards) in 2004.
Oklahoma set the previous rushing record (5,196 yards) in 1971, and Texas Tech held the previous total offense mark (7,576 yards) in 2003.
In 2005, Pitt State ranked second nationally in scoring and total offense, averaging 46.8 points and 536.0 total yards per game. The Gorillas also ranked seventh nationally in rushing, averaging 295.2 yards a game.
In 2006, Pitt State led NCAA Division II in scoring and ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense, averaging 44.8 points and 454.8 total yards per game in 2006. In 2007, the Gorillas ranked 21st nationally in scoring and 19th nationally in total offense, averaging 37.4 points and 454.2 total yards per game. In 2008, Pitt State ranked 18th nationally in scoring (35.5 ppg) and 21st in the nation in total offense (432.6 ypg). In 2009, the Pitt State offense averaged 29.4 points and 434.4 total yards per game, while the Gorillas averaged 22.8 points and 357.7 total yards per game last year.
The Gorillas are averaging 40.6 points, 454.0 total yards and 263.5 rushing yards per game on the season, ranking sixth nationally in rushing, fifth in scoring and 17th in total offense.
Dickey Leads Pitt State Offense
Senior quarterback Zac Dickey has rushed the ball 194 times for a team-leading 1,097 yards (5.7 ypc) and 10 touchdowns on the season, while completing 139 of 232 passes (.599) for 2,100 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Dickey, who earned second-team All-MIAA honors, has compiled 3,197 yards of total offense on the season (245.9 ypg).
The Pittsburg native set a Pitt State single-game playoff record for total offense in the Gorillas’ quarterfinal win over NW Missouri State, compiling 413 total yards. He rushed for 147 yards and passed for 266 yards and three scores in the 41-16 victory over the Bearcats. It marked the second-highest single-game total offense output – behind Andy Majors 430-yard effort against SW Baptist on Oct. 15, 2005. His total bested the old postseason mark of 379 yards set by Ronald Moore against Portland State in the 1992 NCAA-II semifinals.
In the last six games, Dickey has completed 73 of 132 passes (.553) for 1,236 yards (206.0 ypg) and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions.
For his career, the Pittsburg native has rushed the ball 339 times for 1,997 yards (5.9 ypc) and 17 touchdowns, and he’s completed 230 of 420 passes (.548) for 3,092 yards and 22 TDs with 13 interceptions. He’s compiled 5,089 yards of total offense.
Dickey sits in fourth place on Pitt State’s single season total offense list following Saturday’s game. He needs 26 yards to climb to third place on the chart.
Dickey also ranks third on Pitt State’s single season passing chart and with 250 more yards he can climb to second place. His 139 completions also ranks third on Pitt State’s single-season chart.
Dickey also became just the fifth Pitt State quarterback to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark. With 48 more yards he can climb to No. 2 on the QB rushing chart. He also needs three more yards to become the sixth Pitt State quarterback to reach 2,000 career rushing yards.
Brown Electric, Again
Sophomore wide receiver John Brown continues to turn in electric performances impacting the Pitt State offense and special teams units
The Homestead, Fla., native caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown and returned a punt 43 yards for a score in the Gorillas 49-23 victory over Delta State in the NCAA-II semifinals last week.
Brown (5-11, 170) posted four straight 100-yard receiving games between Nov. 5 and Dec. 3 – the first four-game streak of 100-yard receiving games in school history. He has five 100-yard receiving games on the season, including a career-best 182-yard game in The Fall Classic at Arrowhead X vs. NW Missouri State on Oct. 1.
For the season, Brown has caught 56 passes for 1,117 yards (19.9 ypc, 85.9 ypg) and 12 touchdowns. He became just the fifth receiver in school history to register a 1,000-yard season. Brown needs eight receiving yards to climb as high as No. 2 on the single-season receiving chart.
Additionally, Brown has carried the ball 16 times for 89 yards (5.6 ypc) and three TDs and he’s accumulated 931 return yards with three more special teams scores. All told, Brown has compiled 2,137 all-purpose yards (164.4 ypg).
He ranks 12th nationally in all-purpose yards, 12th in the nation in punt returns (14.6 ypr, 2 TDs) and 20th in the country in kickoff returns (26.9 ypr, 1 TD).
Pitt State Defense Stingy
The Pitt State defense has been a stingy unit on points and yardage allowed during the 2011 season.
The Gorillas rank among the top 25 defenses in Division II in several statistical categories. Pitt State ranks in a tie for fourth place nationally in turnovers gained (37, 2.8 pg), sixth nationally in passing efficiency defense (96.6 rating), 12th nationally in first downs allowed (16.1 pg), 15th nationally in QB sacks (39, 3.0 pg) and 17th nationally rushing defense (108.9 ypg) and tackles-for-loss (110, 8.5 pg).
Pitt State also ranks 26th in scoring defense (20.1 ppg) and 33rd in total defense (311.9 ypg).
The Gorillas have allowed just 13 passing touchdowns in 13 games, while gathering in 23 interceptions. Pitt State is +8 (+0.62 pg) in turnover margin.
Dreiling Named AFCA All-American
Sophomore linebacker Nate Dreiling has enjoyed a second straight NCAA Division II All-America season for the Gorillas.
Dreiling (6-4, 228) was named to the AFCA Division II Coaches All-America Team Tuesday (Dec. 13). The Hutchinson, Kan., native also garnered All-America honors as a redshirt freshman in 2010 when he led Division II in tackles with 160 total stops (13.3 pg).
Dreiling turned in the top performance of his career in the Gorillas 49-23 victory over Delta State in the NCAA-II semifinals last Saturday. He matched his career high with 18 tackles (10 solo) in the contest, including 4.5 TFLs and a quarterback sack. Dreiling also forced a fumble, batted down a pass and registered an interception against the Statesmen.
The 2011 MIAA Defensive Player of the Year has made 124 tackles (49 solo) on the season with 17.0 TFLs, 3.0 QB sacks, seven interceptions, six pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
Dreiling has compiled 284 tackles in 25 games (11.4 pg) with 18 double-digit outings. He also has 37.5 TFLs to his credit, along with 4.5 QB sacks, eight interceptions and seven pass breakups.
His 284 tackles already place him 10th all-time on Pitt State’s career tackle chart. He needs four stops to climb to ninth and 12 tackles to climb to eighth.
Toca, Worthington Provide one-Two Punch
Junior defensive end Gus Toca and senior defensive end Spencer Worthington have provided an effective one-two punch on the Pitt State defensive line.
Toca (6-3, 257) earned first-team All-MIAA and second-team All-Super Region Four honors this year. The Blue Springs, Mo., native has recorded 52 tackles with a team-best 19.0 TFLs, 11.0 QB sacks, five pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
Toca has recorded 89 career tackles with 26.0 TFLs and 14.0 QB sacks in 31 games.
Worthington (6-2, 220) also earned second-team All-MIAA honors. The Carlisle, Iowa, native has registered 44 tackles (17 solo) with 13.0 TFLs and 8.0 QB sacks. Worthington, a three-time All-MIAA performer, has made 173 career stops with 29.5 TFLs and 17.0 QB sacks.
As a team, Pitt State has registered 110 tackles-for-loss on the season, including 39 quarterback sacks.
Scouting the Warriors
Wayne State enters the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship Game averaging
Saturday’s NCAA-II national semifinal action averaging 387.5 total yards (199.9 rushing, 187.7 passing) and 35.3 points per game to date. The Warriors rank 23rd nationally in scoring.
Junior quarterback Mickey Mohner directs the potent Warriors offense.
Mohner (6-3, 217) has completed 179 of 318 passes (.563) for 2,740 yards (182.7 ypg) and 25 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He has 29 rushing attempts for -34 net yards with one score. Mohner ranks 19th in Division II in passing efficiency with a 149.6 passer rating.
Last week against No. 3 Winston-Salem State, Mohner passed for 156 yards and a score and added a rushing touchdown in a 21-14 victory.
Senior wide receiver Troy Burrell has been Mohner’s favorite target this season, catching 86 passes for 1,620 yards (18.8 ypc) and 15 touchdowns. Burrell (5-10, 182) ranks fifth in Division II in receiving yards (108.0 ypg).
Sophomore wide receiver Dominique Maybanks (6-0, 174) also has 20 catches for 367 yards (18.4 ypc) and four touchdowns.
Senior running back Josh Renel and sophomore running back Toney Davis provide a stout one-two punch to the Wayne State ground game.
Davis (5-10, 212) has carried the ball 262 times for a team-leading 1,379 yards (5.3 ypc, 91.9 ypg) with 20 touchdowns, while Renel (5-9, 191) has a team-high 280 carries for 1,343 yards (4.8 ypc, 89.5 ypg) and 14 touchdowns.
Renel also has caught 24 passes out of the backfield for 228 yards (9.5 ypc) and one score to date.
Up front, Wayne State’s offensive line has surrendered just 14.0 QB sacks in 327 pass attempts, allowing just one sack in every 23.4 attempts.
The Warrior’s starting five average 6-foot, 4-inches and 297 pounds per man. Senior tackles Will Khoury (6-4, 283) and Joe Long (6-6, 308) were first-team All-GLIAC selections for the Warriors.
Defensively, the Warriors allow 23.1 points and 357.2 total yards per game (119.1 rushing, 238.1 passing). Wayne State has forced 34 turnovers, including 21 interceptions with two returned for touchdowns.
The Warriors are led by senior free safety Jeremy Jones. Jones (5-10, 189), who was named a 2011 AFCA Division II All-American Tuesday (Dec. 13), has made a team-leading 92 tackles (67 solo) with 10.5 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 QB sacks, nine interceptions and four pass breakups. Jones ranks 13th in Division II in interceptions (0.6 pg).
Sophomore linebacker Ed Viverette (6-0, 224) has made 74 tackles (45 solo) with a team-leading 15.0 TFLs and 7.5 QB sacks. He also has six PBUs and two forced fumbles.
Wayne State has registered 46 QB sacks on the season. Redshirt freshman linebacker Nores Fradi (6-1, 222) has logged 7.5 QB sacks, while sophomore linebacker Moe Davenport (6-1, 227) has made 5.0 QB sacks.
Junior cornerback Aaron Cornett (6-0, 189) has a team-leading 18 pass breakups as well as three interceptions on the season. He ranks 15th in the country in passes defended (1.4 pg).
Sophomore Stefan Terleckyj has converted 12 of 18 field goal attempts (.667) on the year as well as 67 of 69 (.971) PAT tries. He has attempted just field goal from 40 yards and beyond, booting a 43-yarder in a playoff win vs. Nebraska-Kearney.
Terleckyj (6-2, 200) also has punted 59 times for a 37.8-yard average with a long of 73 yards and 25 kicks placed inside the opponent 20 yard line.
Renel has returned 21 kickoffs for a 22.6 yard average, while sophomore James Jackson (6-0, 180) has returned 11 kickoffs for a 30.2-yard average with two touchdowns.
Jones has returned nine punts for a 21.8-yard average with one touchdown, sophomore Antwon Robinson (6-0, 170) has averaged 13.8 yards on four punt returns this season.
Wayne State Rare Three-Lose Team in Title Game
Wayne State will be just the fourth team to ever reach the NCAA Division II Football Championship Game with three losses.
Delta State was 11-3 when the Statesmen played in the 2010 Championship Game but lost to Minnesota-Duluth.
In 1996 Northern Colorado became the first school to ever reach the title game with three losses. The Bears were 11-3 entering the title game and defeated Carson-Newan to win a National Championship.
In 2005, Northwest Missouri State also had an 11-3 record entering the Championship Game but the Bearcats lost to Grand Valley State.
Pitt State Could Join Elite Group
There are just nine schools that have won two or more NCAA Division II football titles and Pittsburg State could add its name to that list with a win in the 2011 Championship Game.
Former DII member North Dakota won five titles from 1983-90 and Grand Valley State is second all-time in Division II with four.
North Alabama and NW Missouri State have won three Division II Championships each.
Experience vs. Cinderella
Pittsburg State is in its 17th playoff appearance, which ties for the most by any current Division II football-playing school, while Wayne State is making its first-ever Division II playoff trip.
Championship Games Close Recently
The last 10 straight NCAA Division II Football Championship Games have all been decided by a touchdown or less.
The last Championship Game that was not decided in single digits was Delta State’s 63-34 blowout of Bloomsburg in 2000.
©2011 Pittsburg State University