Florence, AL – Zac Dickey threw for 190 yards with a 21 win over Wayne State in the Division II football championship game.
The Gorillas (13-1) turned the game around with a blocked field goal return for a touchdown en route to their second Division II title and first since 1991. Pittsburg State ended a three-game losing streak in the championship game, having fallen short of a title 1992, 1995 and 2004.
Wayne State (12-4) was making its first appearance in the championship game. The Warriors had never reached the Division II playoffs prior to this season, but won four games on the road to earn their championship berth.
The Detroit-based school took out defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth in the quarterfinals and handed Winston-Salem State its first loss of the season in the semifinals.
Wayne State held a 14-13 lead midway through the second quarter and was in position to extend the advantage with a first down at the Pittsburg State seven. The Gorillas forced a field goal try and Paul Robinson blocked the kick. Aries Herrion scooped up the ball and raced 80 yards the other way to instead give Pittsburg State the lead.
After a Wayne State punt, the Gorillas scored again with just 15 seconds left in the half when Dickey found a wide open Bristan Kelley in the end zone for a six-yard score to make it 27-14.
Neither team seriously threatened again until Pittsburg State moved inside the Wayne State 30 early in the fourth, but Dickey was picked off by Antwon Robinson at the seven to keep the score within reach.
Toney Davis, who finished with 178 yards on ground for Wayne State, then scored on a one-yard run with 5:11 remaining to pull the Warriors within six, but Dickey followed with a 53-yard pass to Andrew Castaneda on the ensuing drive and Jason Spradling scored on a four-yard run soon after to seal it.
Spradling finished with 62 yards on 14 carries and the Gorillas ran for 187 yards in the contest. The Warriors had 211 yards on the ground.
Wayne State took the lead on the opening kickoff as Josh Renel returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors then picked off Dickey on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, but Wayne State quarterback Mickey Mohner was intercepted two plays later to give Pittsburg State possession at the Wayne State 37.
The Gorillas cashed in soon after when Eric Love scored on a 15-yard run to make it 7-7 just under two minutes into the contest.
Mohner fumbled the snap on Wayne State's next possession and Pittsburg State capitalized with a 37-yard Chase McCoy field goal. Elijah Olabode intercepted Mohner moments later on a third-down deep pass that produced the same result as a punt.
The Warriors got it back after a Pittsburg State punt and marched 85 yards for a touchdown. Davis capped the series with a one-yard run to put Wayne State ahead 14-10 in the final minute of a wild opening quarter.
McCoy's second field goal of the game, a 34-yarder 4 1/2 minutes into the second quarter, started Pittsburg State's comeback.