Mavs can't hold off Pitt State

The Maverick football team erased a 21-point first-half deficit but could not hold off the 14th-ranked Pittsburg State University Gorillas, losing 35-28 on a Homecoming Saturday in Pittsburg, Kan. The Mavs are now 4-3 on the year, 3-3 in MIAA play.  
The Mavericks got great field position to open the game, starting on the 50 yard line.  The   Mavericks turned the ball over when Zach Miller’s was picked off by Pittsburg’s Alex Kuhlman. PSU then finished off an 11-play drive with a 5-yard pass from Mark Smith to Caleb Farabi.   Pittsburg State doubled its lead when it got the ball back later in the first quarter. Smith hit Marques Nelson with a 45-yard pass that he juggled into the end zone for a touchdown.  
The Gorillas continued to move the ball at will in the second quarter. They capped off an 84-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by Farabi to take a 21-0 lead.   The Mavericks finally got on the board in the final minute of the half. They ground out a 12-play drive punctuated by three 5-yard penalties against.  Miller capped the drive, lunging into the end zone from eight yards out to make it 21-7 at the half.   UNO looked to turn the tide early in the second half. Pittsburg tried a fake punt on fourth and one deep in its own territory, but the Mavericks sniffed it out, tackling punter Jared Witter on the 15 yard line. Two plays later, Miller hit Eloi with a 14-yard pass to make it 21-14.  
The Gorillas marched the other way on their next possession but stalled. The ensuing 25-yard field goal try by Witter was wide, giving the Mavs the ball back at their own 20.   Miller then directed a seven play, 80-yard drive and finished it himself with a 27-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 21 after three quarters.   The Gorillas grabbed the lead back when Smith ran the ball in from four yards out. 
The Mavericks were held to three and out, setting up PSU at the UNO 38-yard line. The Gorillas added to their lead with a 16-yard rush from Brandon Clark to make it 35-21.   UNO’s best chance to get back in the game was snuffed out late in the fourth quarter when Miller fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Pittsburg State.    By the time the Mavs got the ball back, they had less than three minutes remaining. Miller marched his team back down field and found Kush open from five yards out to close the gap to 35-28.  
The Gorillas recovered the ensuing on-side kick and ran out the clock to earn the win. For the game, the Mavs were outgained by PSU 467-338 which held the ball for nearly 37 minutes.
The Mavericks will face another stiff test from a ranked opponent next Saturday when they play Central Missouri. Game time is 1:30 p.m. from Walton Stadium in Warrensburg, Mo.
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