PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State was faced with an early decision on Saturday night.
Settle for a field goal or try to pick up two yards on fourth down while at Northeastern State's 4-yard line. Based on what followed the rest of the night, it was a no-brainer.
Pittsburg State running back Steven Sullivan not only picked up the first down, but he also eased into the end zone and the Gorillas were out to an early lead.
The rest of the night followed suit.
No. 21 Pittsburg State amassed 582 yards of total offense and annihilated NSU, 45-6, in front of 10,374 at Carnie Smith Stadium on Saturday night.
"Well, you know, it's not the game plan — or the type of game — that we imagined," NSU head coach Kenny Evans said. "I don't think it was any kind of indication of the type of team we have."
The RiverHawks — 0-1 overall, 0-1 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association — logged only 244 yards of total offense, 115 of which came in the fourth quarter with the game already decided.
Offense for Pittsburg State, on the other hand, came quite easy. The Gorillas averaged 8.3 yards per play — 9.3 yards per snap through three quarters, before the play-calling became conservative in the final period.
"I thought offense and defense, they complemented each other very well in the first half," said Pittsburg State head coach Tim Beck, whose team improved to 1-0 both overall and in league play.
"Nice to see our offense go out and on very first drive and take it down and score. Nice to see the defense have several three-and-outs."
For the second straight season, Pittsburg State quarterback Anthony Abenoja spearheaded a lethal offensive attack. The junior signal caller had 228 yards and three touchdowns on 18 of 24 pass attempts. He also ran for 86 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Jeff Seybold Jr. was the Gorillas' leading rusher, piling up 132 yards on six carries. It was Seybold Jr. — making his first career start — that delivered the decisive dagger in the second half.
After forcing NSU to punt early in the third quarter, Pittsburg State took over and Seybold Jr. raced 80 yards up the middle of the field for a touchdown. That gave the Gorillas a 35-0 lead with 12:32 left in the third period.
Leading Pittsburg State in the receiving department was John Brown, who hauled in six catches for 78 yards. However, the preseason All-American did not find the end zone, instead deferring to Gavin Lutman and Luke Rampy for those honors.
Lutman had four catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns. The first score was an 18-yard reception in the first quarter, and the second came in the second quarter on a 28-yard toss by Abenoja.
One of Rampy's two catches on the night was a 23-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter.
Joel Rockmore paced NSU on offense, collecting 99 yards on 19 rushes.
The RiverHawks' lone score came in the fourth quarter when reserve quarterback Thor Long ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 9:51 left.
Long — on in relief after starting quarterback Johnny Deaton suffered an injury late in the first half — finished the game six of 16 for 103 yards.
"Offensively, the whole first half, really, we were never able to get anything going," Evans said. "We've got to make some adjustments and simplify some things on defense. Offensively, we're going to have to make a couple of changes."