No. 1 Pittsburg State downs Central Missouri with TD in fourth quarter
PITTSBURG -- Tony Abenoja tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brady Letchworth with 6:20 remaining in the game to help seal a 30-21 victory for No. 1 Pittsburg State against upset-minded Central Missouri on Saturday.
Pitt State led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but the Mules (4-2) successfully held the Gorillas in check in the second half until Abenoja connected with wide receiver John Brown on a 46-yard play. Brown's catch set up Pitt State (5-0) on the UCM 23-yard line.
Four plays later, fullback Mandel Dixon capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown. Connor Frazell missed the extra point, but the Gorillas reclaimed a 23-21 lead with 11:25 remaining in the game.
The Pitt State defense then forced another three-and-out by UCM with 4:57 to go and the Gorillas ran off nearly four minutes of clock before Abenoja was intercepted in the UCM end zone by Ricky Spratley.
The Mules moved the ball to the UCM 41 before Smith threw an incomplete on a fourth-down play with five seconds remaining to effectively end the game.
Abenoja completed 23-of-38 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns in the contest. Brown made nine catches for a game-high 157 yards, including a 13-yard first-quarter touchdown catch. Rampy also had nine catches for a career-best 144 yards for the Gorillas.
Jason Spradling rushed the ball 18 times for 134 yards. The Gorillas rushed the ball 40 times for 171 yards in the game.
For the Mules, Smith completed 16-of-32 passes for 256 yards. He also carried the ball 14 times for one yard and two scores. Smith had 54 yards gained but lost 53 yards as the Gorillas registered six QB sacks.
Nate Dreiling led Pitt State with 10 tackles, while Jason Peete added eight stops. Marquise Cushon registered 1.5 QB sacks and blocked a punt in the contest.