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Pitt State will be making its third appearance in the annual Mineral Water Bowl scheduled for Dec. 7 at Tiger Stadium in Excelsior Springs. The Gorillas of the MIAA will face the Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs from the NSIC Conference in the noon kickoff.
Pitt State finished the regular season 9-2 in the tough MIAA, while SMSU, making its first trip to the Mineral Water Bowl brings a 7-4 mark to town with the seven victories tied for third most in program history. It is also the most wins registered by the Mustangs since entering NCAA II play.
SMSU head coach Cory Sauter has guided the Mustangs into its first-ever post-season appearance in his fourth year at the helm. Sauter graduated from the University of Minnesota as the school’s all-time leader in pass completions, pass attempts and passing yardage.
Sauter has left his mark on the Mustangs offense as it ranks fourth in Division II in total offense with an average of 549 yards per game. Junior running back Tyler Tonderum leads the nation in rushing with 1,979 yards on 315 carries. He has eight 100-yard rushing games and has scored 18 touchdowns helping SMSU average 247 yards a game on the ground. Quarterback Charlie Kern has completed 258 of his 396 pass attempts this season. The junior signal caller has 32 touchdown passes while throwing just 7 interceptions. Kern’s favorite target is senior Anthony Dean who has pulled in 46 receptions for 931 yards and 17 touchdowns.
AJ Page leads the Mustang defensive effort with 102 tackles, including 15 behind the line and a half dozen quarterback sacks. The junior has also blocked 4 kicks this season. Senior linebacker Dashawn Miller has a team-high 4 interceptions.
Pitt State is seeking its third Mineral Water Bowl victory in as many appearances and brings an offense to town that has posted an average of over 42 points a contest. Tim Beck is in his fourth year leading the Gorillas and has compiled a 35-12 record, including the Division II National Championship in 2011. Beck has been at PSU for 27 years.