Pittsburg State improved to 3-0 with its 59-7 win over Southwest Baptist on Saturday night at a Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium filled with 10,788 partisans.
One more September game — Lincoln in Jefferson City, Mo. — and then it's time for the October schedule of Abilene Christian, Central Missouri, Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western, a true gauntlet with a former Division II and new FCS opponent for Homecoming first on the docket, then three straight Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association stalwarts.
The Gorillas moved up two more spots in the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll to 12, one of five MIAA schools in the top 25 — Northwest Missouri 3, Missouri Western 6, Pitt State 12, Washburn 18 and Emporia State 24.
Junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja leads the nation in passing efficiency — 48 of 68 (70.6 completion percentage), 732 yards, nine TDs and no interceptions add up to a 204.69 efficiency. Abenoja started out a little slowly against Southwest Baptist, before passing for 293 yards and three scores on 11-20 — Abenoja found John Brown five times for 171 yards and two scores.
On the first score, Brown turned an out route for a first down into a 57-yard touchdown and 10-0 Pitt State lead after a sluggish quarter-and-a-half for both offenses. On the second, Abenoja made a perfect throw over two Southwest Baptist defenders into Brown's arms for a 62-yard TD.
After two solid but not sensational performances, only by his lofty standards, Brown totaled 298 all-purpose yards Saturday night — his receiving totals augmented by a 95-yard kickoff return for touchdown to open the second half for a 38-0 advantage on the Bearcats. Brown was electric Saturday night.
The MIAA bestowed Special Teams Player of the Week honors Monday on Brown.
Brown moved up to No. 17 in all-purpose in NCAA-II . . . ahead of him include four MIAA players.
No. 5 needs 37 receiving yards to pass Ronnie West and become Pitt State's all-time leader. Brown averages 19.7 yards per reception this season.
Jeff Seybold rushed for over 100 yards for a second time this season, 104 yards Saturday night on a season-high 16 carries. Seybold went into the end zone three times, scoring on runs of 29, 3 and 1. Pitt State only had three 100-yard games last season, including two (Briceton Wilson, Jason Spradling) in the same game against Truman State.
Seybold ranks second in the MIAA and tied for seventh nationally in scoring with his 42 points (seven TDs).
Pitt State committed its first turnover Saturday night — safety Keeston Terry lost a fumble during his interception return.
The Gorillas lead the MIAA in scoring offense (56.3), rank second in scoring defense (12.3), second in total offense (547.7 ypg), first in total defense (292.3 ypg), second in rushing offense (289.0), fifth in rushing defense (147.0), first in pass defense (145.3), second in pass defense efficiency (97.7), first in kickoff returns (34.6 avg.), second in sacks (8), second in first downs (27 per game), opponent first downs (15.7), second in third-down conversions (21-41, 51.2 percent) and lead the MIAA in both red zone offense (15-16, 93.8 percent) and red zone defense (3-5, 60 percent).
Page 2 of 2 - Nationally, Pitt State ranks seventh in total offense, 21st in total defense, 14th in pass defense, 12th in rushing offense, 11th in scoring defense, tied for first in turnover margin, tied for 15th in first downs, tied for 5th in fewest penalties per game (4), 22nd in fewest penalty yards per game (41.67), 11th in third-down conversions, tied for 14th in red zone defense, 12th in red zone offense, second in team passing efficiency (207.20) and 18th in passing efficiency defense (97.69).
The three leading scoring offenses in the MIAA are Kansas schools — Pitt State 56.3, Washburn 53.3 and Emporia State 43.7. Pitt State ranks second in NCAA-II and Washburn third.
Records were dropping like flies Saturday night in Edmond, Okla., only a week after Pitt State decimated the Central Oklahoma defense for 65 points. Emporia State put up 54 points in a 54-38 victory and established four new MIAA records.
The records: Sophomore quarterback Brent Wilson's 522 passing yards, seven touchdowns and 571 yards of total offense, plus Ray Ray Davis's five touchdown receptions.
For his performance, Wilson earned MIAA Offensive Player of the Week, beating out Chris Barnwell of Missouri Southern, Billy Creason of Northwest Missouri, Hayden Hawk of Central Missouri, Tore Hurst of Washburn, Bronson Marsh of Nebraska-Kearney, Travis Partridge of Missouri Western and Alex Robinson of Lindenwood.
Central Oklahoma standout running back Josh Birmingham was not to be left out, as his 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave him the UCO career scoring record.
After wins over Fort Hays State, Nebraska-Kearney and Central Oklahoma, Wilson has passed for over 1,100 yards with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions, averaging 373.3 yards per game. Davis leads the club with 29 catches for 310 yards and six TDs, while second-leading receiver Austin Willis has 23 catches for 548 yards and six TDs.
Wilson ranks fifth in the nation in passing yardage — behind only Bo Cordell of Tusculum, D.J. Mendenhall of Urbana, Kevin Rodgers of Henderson State and Dustin Vaughan of West Texas A&M — and third in total offense behind Vaughan and Matt Brown of Colorado Mines. Wilson also ranks second in TD passes and passing efficiency.
Willis leads the nation in receiving yards and he and Davis are tied for second in the nation in TDs.
Washburn managed only a season-low 48 points Saturday in a 45-point win over Northeastern State.
Donnie Lockhart scored a pair of TD runs, Justin Linn kicked a pair of field goals, Washburn quarterbacks Mitch Buhler and Joel Piper each threw a touchdown pass (let's keep this pair theme in line), Bryce Atagi returned an interception 35 yards and Jaime Myers returned a punt 69 yards.
Like Pitt State against Southwest Baptist, Washburn led 3-0 after the first quarter.
Atagi earned MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors on Monday.
Pitt State, Emporia State and Washburn have combined for a 9-0 start.