The Northeastern State football team dropped a 41-20 decision to the defending national champion and top-ranked Pittsburg State Gorillas in the season opener for both teams Thursday night at Doc Wadley Stadium.
The RiverHawks (0-1, 0-1 MIAA) were welcomed to their new conference by 3,527 fans, and sophomore running back Terrance Dixon put on a show for the home crowd to the tune of 174 all-purpose yards and two scores.
He ended the day with 14 carries for 128 yards (9.1 ypc) and two receptions for 46 yards. He also scored touchdowns on 46- and 29-yard runs.
Northeastern State had 386 yards of total offense, with 244 coming through the air and 142 by way of the rushing attack. NSU forced five Pitt State turnovers, while only giving the ball away three times. Pitt State recorded 562 yards of offense (378 pass, 184 rush).
Sophomore quarterback Johnny Deaton was 15-of-38 passing for 244 yards, with 148 of those yards coming in the third quarter. He also had a touchdown pass and three interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Jermaine Sherman had five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. On defense, junior D-back Victor Johnson led the way with 12 tackles and a sack. Sophomore DB's Kyler Harris and Chandler Barr each recorded interceptions.
Anthony Abenoja led the way for PSU, as he was 26-of-36 for 378 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. John Brown ended the day with nine receptions for 140 yards and two TD's.
The Gorillas scored on their opening drive when Abenoja found Brown in the endzone for an eight-yard strike at the 9:01 mark.
NSU responded midway through the first when Dixon exploded for his 46-yard score.
Pitt State added scores from Trezz Tillman and Bradley Letchworth in the second quarter to take a 21-6 advantage into intermission.
The road team had another 10 points before Deaton found Sherman for a 30-yard score with 3:01 to play in the third quarter.
Pittsburg State outscored NSU 10-7 in the fourth for the final score of 41-20.
The RiverHawks will be on the road next weekend, as they travel to Missouri Southern for a 6 p.m. tilt Sept. 8.