By Ben Johnson
PITTSBURG, Kan. — Anthony Abenoja passed for three touchdowns and scored one on the ground as No. 21 Pittsburg State rolled to a 45-6 trouncing of Northeastern State at Carnie Smith Stadium on Saturday night.
Abenoja was 18 of 24 through the air for 228 yards and three scores. He also racked up 86 yards on 11 carries, including a 17-yard touchdown run that capped 45 unanswered points for Pittsburg State to start the game.
Northeastern State (0-1, 0-1 MIAA) finished with 244 total yards on offense, but 115 of those came with the game already in hand in the fourth quarter.
“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.”
Playing in front of a crowd 10,374, the Gorillas (1-0, 1-0) scored three minutes and 32 seconds into the contest on Steven Sullivan’s 4-yard run on fourth-and-2 from NSU’s 4-yard line. Pittsburg State would add another touchdown at the 3:30 mark in the first quarter, when Gavin Lutman hauled in an 18-yard pass from Abenoja.
Picking large chunks of yards on seemingly every play, Pittsburg State took a 28-0 edge into the halftime locker room.
The Gorillas finished with 582 yards of total offense — the most NSU has given up since last season’s 66-6 loss to Northwest Missouri State, where the RiverHawks issued 654 yards of offense.
Jeff Seybold Jr. opened the game with a 38-yard run for the Gorillas. The sophomore tailback — in his first career start — would finish with 132 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Pittsburg State rushed for a total of 354 yards on 46 attempts.
“I thought the offense and defense complemented each other very well in the first half,” Pittsburg State head coach Tim Beck said. “It was nice to see our offense go out on the very first drive take it down and score. It was nice to see the defense have several three-and-outs.”
Joel Rockmore — who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season for NSU — ran for 99 yards on 19 carries. Fourty-two of those yards came on a run in the third quarter.
NSU quarterback Johnny Deaton was 1-of-3 for 24 yards before leaving in the second quarter with an injury. His backup, Thor Long, came in and was 6-of-16 for 103 yards. Long also scored NSU’s lone touchdown of the night, a 1-yard plunge with 9:51 left in the game.
NSU will open at home Saturday against Missouri Southern, while Pittsburg State will play in Edmond against Central Oklahoma.
Pittsburg State 45, NSU 6
NSU 0 0 0 6—6
PittSt. 14 14 10 7—45
Pitt— Steven Sullivan 4-yard run (Connor Frazell kick), 11:28.
Pitt— Gavin Lutman 18-yard pass from Anthony Abenoja (Frazell kick), 3:30.
Pitt— Lutman 28-yard pass from Abenoja (Frazell kick), 7:49.
Pitt— Luke Rampy 23-yard pass from Abenoja (Frazell kick), 0:31.
Pitt— Jeff Seybold Jr. 80-yard run (Frazell kick), 12:32.
Pitt— Frazell 43-yard field goal, 5:46.
Pitt— Abenoja 17-yard run (Frazell kick), 13:17.
NSU — Thor Long 1-yard run (conversion failed), 9:51.