Anthony Abenoja threw for 296 yards and accounted for three touchdowns Saturday night, and Pittsburg State (Kan.), the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division II football, downed Central Oklahoma 34-19 before 10,754 fans at Carnie Smith Stadium.
The defending national champion allowed UCO to draw within 12 points with 7:19 left in the game, but the Gorillas (2-0 overall, 2-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association) answered on their next possession with Connor Frazell's 29-yard field goal. Pitt State ran out the final 2:04 after Arles Harrion intercepted Adrian Nelson's pass at the Gorillas' 24-yard line.
Central Oklahoma's Joshua Birmingham had a game-best 122 yards rushing, including one touchdown. Nelson threw for 191 yards and a TD.
The UCO defense was smacked for 540 total yards, but it did sack Abenoja four times.
UCO, which remains winless after two games under first-year coach Nick Bobeck, will play at Emporia State (Kan.) next Saturday.
TIGERS DECK SOUTHERN NAZARENE
East Central charged to a 21-point lead in the first quarter and went on to beat Southern Nazarene 37-15 at Norris Field in Ada.
Titus Mobley finished with 119 yards and two touchdowns rushing, both coming in the Tigers' big first quarter. East Central quarterback Cody Miller helped account for two TDs, including a 10-yard scoring pass to Mobley in the second quarter.