KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sophomore return specialist John Brown was named the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week Monday (Sept. 5), while junior defense end Gus Toca claimed MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Brown and Toca helped lead Pitt State to a convincing 34-7 season-opening victory over Missouri Western last Thursday (Sept. 1) at Spratt Memorial Stadium.
Making his Pitt State debut, Brown (5-11, 170) sparked Pitt State to an early 7-0 lead with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Griffons. The Homestead, Fla., native compiled a game-high 201 all-purpose yards in the contest, averaging 22.4 yards on five punt returns. He also caught a team-leading four passes for 70 yards, including a 44-yarder that set up another Pitt State score.
Brown transferred to Pitt State from Coffeyville Community College, where he redshirted in 2010. He played his freshman season at Division II Mars Hill (N.C.) College.
Toca led a dominant effort by the Pitt State defense in the season opener. The Waco, Texas, native who prepped at Blue Springs (Mo.) High School, logged a team-leading six tackles with 2.5 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 quarterback sacks. He also forced a fumble near the Pitt State goal line, after a Gorillas turnover gave the Griffons the ball at the PSU 14 in the third quarter.
Toca (6-3, 257) logged two of Pitt State's five quarterback sacks in the contest as the Gorillas made 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage overall. The Gorillas forced four turnovers and limited the Griffons to 191 total yards, including 112 rushing yards, in the contest - with 60 yards coming on a TD scamper in the game's final two minutes.
Washburn quarterback Dane Simoneau garnered MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors after passing for 452 yards and five touchdowns in a 33-17 victory over provisional Division II member Sioux Falls.