Playing at Spratt Stadium for the first time in 364 days, Griffon football delivered a forgettable performance.
An ineffective offense and many crucial penalties halted the Griffons in a big way, and Missouri Western dropped their second game of 2020 against MIAA rival Pittsburg State by a 20-7 final.
Head coach Matt Williamson didn’t mince words when assessing the team’s performance.
“We came out kind of flat, didn’t play very well,” Williamson said. “We just struggled.”
The Griffons achilles heel in the game was, without question, the penalties. Missouri Western had a staggering 17 penalties that cost them 165 yards, with several of those penalties being for pass interference on third down.
Williamson addressed the penalties and how they held the team back.
“The penalties absolutely killed us, they kept drives alive,” Williamson said. “I just told our kids in the locker room ‘If you have 17 penalties, you’re not going to win any football games.’”
The penalties kept several drives alive, and many brought the Gorillas to field goal range, where they went 2-4. This led to Pittsburg State absolutely dominating the time of possession, as they had the ball for 37:05 while Missouri Western only controlled play for 22:55.
While the Griffons did have the ball, they couldn’t do much with it. Missouri Western had nine punts in the contest and never got within the Pittsburg State 44-yard line.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Vespo only completed 17 of his 33 passes for 137 yards, while also throwing a pair of interceptions.
Vespo was critical of his performance through the Griffons’ first two games.
“Not good enough, it’s not going to cut it,” Vespo said. “The two turnovers, the one at the end, those are drive killers.”
After the Griffons’ quiet first half, they looked to gain some momentum at the kickoff. With kick returner Trey Vaval out, Sam Webb stepped in, and he returned it 90 yards for a Griffon touchdown, making it a 10-7 game. The following drive was where penalties really killed the Griffons. On 3rd and 11 at their own 31, Pittsburg State had a pass broken up, before a holding penalty on Cornerback Tariq Stewart granted the Gorillas a fresh set of downs.
Later on in the drive, Kobe Cummings broke up a 2nd and 11 pass from the Griffon 32, only to get called for pass interference and giving the Gorillas another first down. One play later, Gorilla quarterback Mac Sexton found Jalen Martin in the endzone for a touchdown, making it a 17-7 game that the Griffons weren’t able to recover from.
With only four games currently scheduled for Missouri Western, Saturday was technically the halfway point on the season. The Griffons will look to reverse their fortune next Saturday, as they travel to Canyon, Texas, for a battle against West Texas A&M.