PITTSBURG, Kan. - Jeff Seybold ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon and the Pittsburg State University defense put the clamps on Abilene Christian University's offense for most of the game as the Gorillas – the nation's 10th-ranked NCAA Division II team – knocked off the Wildcats, 28-20, at Carnie Smith Stadium.
The Wildcats – playing their first season as an NCAA Division I FCS independent – drop to 3-3 after their third straight loss. The Gorillas improve to 5-0 with the win. ACU will be back on the road for the fourth straight week next Saturday as the Wildcats will be in Houston to take on first-year FCS program Houston Baptist at BBVA Compass Stadium.
ACU got a late first-half touchdown to cut the Pitt State lead to 17-14, but the Wildcats weren't able to carry that momentum into the third quarter as the Gorillas outscored ACU 11-0 in the decisive 15 minutes.
Frazell ended the opening drive of the third quarter with a 29-yard field goal to make it 20-14. ACU went three-and-out on its next possession and gave the ball back to Pitt State at the Gorillas' 27-yard line midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Anthony Abenoja completed a 62-yard pass to Austin Daniel on third-and-7 to get the ball down to the ACU 8-yard line. One play later, Seybold scored from eight yards and Abenoja ran in the 2-point conversion to make it a 28-14 game with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
ACU responded with a crisp drive that moved from its own 28-yard line to the Pitt State 17-yard line, thanks in part to a 49-yard pass from John David Baker to Taylor Gabriel. Four plays after the big pass to Gabriel, Baker was picked off at the 3-yard line by DeVante Bausby, only his second interception of the season.
The Wildcats got the ball back on its own 20-yard line with 11:31 left in the game and put together a scoring drive, although it was an 18-play, 80-yard drive that took nine minutes off the clock. ACU converted two fourth-down plays to keep the drive alive. Baker capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Cantu-Harkless to make it 28-20 with 2:31 to play. ACU couldn't convert the PAT, leaving the Wildcats down eight points.
The Gorillas recovered the onside kick and ran two plays before inexplicably throwing an incomplete pass on third down with ACU out of timeouts. The Wildcats got the ball back at its own 2-yard line with 1:31 to play and moved out to its 47-yard line after passes of 16 yards to Darian Hogg and 20 yards to DeMarcus Thompson, but Baker was sacked and fumbled on ACU's final offensive play, turning the ball back over to the Gorillas.
ACU finished with just 270 yards of total offense and a mere 10 yards on the ground, and Baker was sacked four times and under constant pressure throughout much of the game. He finished 25 of 42 for 260 yards and two touchdowns to give him 19 touchdown passes on the season.
The Wildcats got on the board first when sophomore cornerback Tyler Chapa picked off Abenoja and returned the ball 32 yards for a touchdown – his second pick-six of the season – to give ACU a 7-0 lead with 8:52 left in the first quarter.
The Gorillas answered, however, with a 10-play, 61-yard drive that took 4:59 off the clock and ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Seybold, tying the game at 7-7 with 3:51 left in the quarter.
Pitt State pushed its lead to 17-7 late in the first half with a pair of scoring drives. Connor Frazell capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive with a 28-yard field at the 9:46 mark of the second quarter to make it 10-7.
The Wildcats were then forced to start a drive at their own five, and on a third-and-short, Baker was sacked at the 1-yard-line, forcing Austin Kilcullen to punt from the back of his own end zone. John Brown returned the ball to the 19-yard-line, but it was moved back to the 34-yard-line after a personal foul penalty on the Gorillas' Dino Teague.
But the penalty didn't hurt the Gorillas as Seybold carried the ball twice, once for 27 yards and then again for seven yards and a touchdown to make it 17-7 with 4:21 left in the first half.
The ACU offense finally put together a drive to end the first half as Baker directed the Wildcats on an 11-play, 74-yard drive that took 4:10 off the clock. He hit Noah Cheshier with a big third-down pass that kept the drive alive, and also hit Taylor Gabriel for 20 yards down to the 3-yard line. Two plays later he hit Gabriel for a 3-yard touchdown pass that cut the PSU lead to 17-14 with 11 seconds left in the first half.
Gabriel finished the game with 10 catches for 117 yards as he moved into second place on the all-time receptions list with 173 as he passed Arthur Culpepper, who caught 166 passes from 1983-86.
Information provided by McMurry athletics department.