Griffons Prepare for No. 12 Pittsburg State

Published 10/21 2013 10:19PM

Updated 10/22 2013 10:49AM

(ST. JOSEPH) Fourth-ranked Missouri Western aims to set a new standard for the best start in program history when they welcome No. 12 Pittsburg State to Spratt Stadium this Saturday.

The last time the Gorillas came to St. Joseph was the 2011 season opener, which also happened to be the first start for now senior quarterback Travis Partridge. The box scores alone speak to how the balance of power in the MIAA has shifted from that game to this one, but it also shows how far Partridge has come as the Griffons' signal caller. 

Taking his first snaps after Drew Newhart's departure in 2011, Partridge was sacked five times as part of a 34-7 defeat. He completed 10 of 20 passes for 79 yards and tossed a pair of interceptions.

Pitt State would go on to capture their fourth national championships that year, while the Griffons were bounced in the first round of the NCAA playoffs in their first ever postseason game at home. 

The following year, MWSU went to Pittsburg, Kan. on the backside of their lone regular season loss to Missouri Southern. The Griffons stunned the biggest home crowd in Pitt State history, defeating the defending champions 63-14. That game, Partridge needed just nine completions on 14 attempts to rack up 213 yards and four touchdowns. 

"He's definitely improved from Game 1 to Game 34 as a starter," Coach Partridge said. "I don't think (that first start) is playing in his mind at all. Last time we played against them, we had a pretty good day. I think we're anxious to play them again and I think they've got it marked on their calendar."

The Gorillas come in where MWSU was a year ago: looking for a rebound after suffering their first loss. Pitt State dropped five spots in the AFCA Poll this week after falling to Northwest 24-15 in Saturday's Fall Classic at Arrowhead Stadium and another loss could put their MIAA title contention in serious jeopardy. 

Getting the Griffons back for last year's pummeling in Pittsburg will be cause for motivation as well.

"I don't think they deal in revenge either, but they want to come play well and they're going to. We're going to get a really good football team this Saturday."

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