FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) – Zac Dickey passed for 190 yards and for 68 to lead Pittsburg State to a 35-21 victory over Wayne State Saturday in the Division II championship game.
The Gorillas (13-1) also turned two blocked kicks into touchdowns to claim their second national title and first since 1991. The Kansas school snapped a streak of three title-game losses.
The Warriors (12-4) had navigated four playoff road games but the team from Detroit fell short of becoming the first unranked team to win the title.
Toney Davis, who rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns, closed the gap on a 1-yard score with 5:11 left.
Wayne State’s defense couldn’t keep Dickey & Co. from the end zone.
Dickey fired a 53-yard pass to Andrew Castaneda and Jason Spradling scored on a clinching 4-yarder.
Jeremy Jones returned the kick into Pittsburg State territory but Elijah Olabode picked off a pass in the end zone.
Dickey, who had more than 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing this season, completed 10 of 16 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 16 times.
John Brown had five catches for 99 yards for the Gorillas.
Wayne State quarterback Mickey Mohner never got going. He completed 7 of 16 passes for 59 yards and was intercepted three times – including picks on his first two attempts.
Davis carried most of the load for the Warriors offense, rushing 28 times. Fellow 1,300-yard rusher Josh Renel returned the opening kick 93 yards for a touchdown but was on crutches in the second half after sustaining an injury to his lower right leg.
Pittsburg State surged to a 27-14 halftime lead with two touchdowns in the final 6:28 – and maintained it going into the fourth quarter.
The Gorillas couldn’t cash in on two opportunities to potentially put the game away. Dickey’s long fourth-and-1 pass fell incomplete in Wayne State territory late in the third. Then his high throw was tipped into Antwon Robinson’s arms for an interception inside the 10 on the next possession in the fourth.
Wayne State responded with a 15-play drive consuming nearly 7 minutes, with Davis covering the final yard untouched for a touchdown with 5:11 left to make it 27-21.
Pittsburg State thought it had recovered a fumble in the end zone two plays earlier but replay showed Davis was down when the ball squirted out.
The Gorillas more than balanced out that early kick coverage breakdown.
Paul Robinson – whose earlier interception set up a touchdown – smothered a field goal attempt and Aries Herrion scooped it up for an 80-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
It was the first score on a blocked field goal in the championship game.
Then, Dickey hit a wide-open Bristan Kelley in the end zone with 15 seconds left. Dickey had converted third downs with a 46-yard pass to Brown and a 16-yard run.
The score came right after a false start penalty spoiled a first-and-goal from the 1.
The game started out in even wilder fashion, with three turnovers in the first seven plays and each quarterback throwing an interception on his first pass.
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