The Griffons turned into beasts in the jungle on Saturday, ripping defending national champion Pittsburg State from limb-to-limb with a 64-13 blowout win in Pittsburg, Kan. The Griffons improve to 7-1 on the season while the Gorillas fall to 5-2.
“Great, great win,” Coach Jerry Partridge said. “I think we played very well and it was fun to watch it all come together like that and play at that level.”
The Gorillas struck first with a pass from Anthony Abenoja to John Brown that gave them a 7-0 lead. However, those would be the only points that the Griffon defense would allow all afternoon.
Defensive coordinator Regi Trotter wasn’t happy with the Gorillas success on their first possession, but was proud of the way the defense responded.
“We really buckled down and stuck to our plan,” Trotter said “We played very well.”
The Griffon offense scored 56 unanswered points, leaving the crowd of nearly 12,000 stunned and heading for the exits as Pittsburg State took only its 13th loss in history at Carnie Smith Stadium.
“We were surprised because we always go in expecting a war,” Safety Shane Simpson said. “It’s just a blessing and you love those days. Everybody just played good, we did all the little things.”
Quarterback Travis Partridge threw for four touchdown passes and 213 yards on only 14 passing attempts. Partridge connected for touchdowns with Derek Libby for 64 yards, Brandon Wright for 35 yards, Reggie Jordan from seven yards out, and found Michael Hill in the flat on a fake reverse play for a 48-yard score.
Partridge was happy with the way the offense played and felt like it was a very complete performance by everybody.
Hill scored three more touchdowns on the ground as he ran the ball into the end-zone from two, five, and 10 yards out. Hill finished with 116 yards on the ground on 17 carries for an average of 6.8 yards per carry. Hill got to rest early after totaling 180 all-purpose yards with the big lead as reserve backs Dominic Thomas and Raphael Spencer showed off their talents. Thomas finished with 59 yards while Spencer ran for 64.
Defensive end David Bass had a huge game, coming away with 2.5 sacks and an interception that he took back 55 yards for a touchdown. Ben Pister was also wreaking havoc from the other end position with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks. Pister recorded 2.5 tackles for a loss, a category in which he leads the MIAA. Bass and Pister are seniors playing in their final season at Western.
“It’s been fun watching those guys grow up,” Trotter said. “When you have two seniors that care so much about this program and have been dominant forces for four years now, it’s good to watch those guys do some damage.”
Defensive back Michael Jordan led the Griffons with nine tackles while safety Shane Simpson intercepted a pass in his first game back from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for two weeks.
“Shane Simpson is that senior leader back there and we really needed him,” Trotter said. “He really stepped up for us when he came back in.”
Before the game, Western was ranked No. 16 in Division II football while Pittsburg was ranked No. 7. After the game the Griffons moved up four spots to No. 12 while the Gorillas fell to No. 20 in the AFCA coaches poll.