Connor Niles has been named the NAIA National Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the Mustangs’ 80-10 victory against Midland.
Morningside College’s Connor Niles, a 5-11, 185 lb. sophomore wide receiver from Sioux City, has been named the NAIA National Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in last Saturday’s 80-10 blowout victory against Midland University.
Niles was also named the Hauff Mid-America Sports/Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Special Teams Players of the Week and Trent Solsma, a 5-11, 190 lb. freshman quarterback from Dakota Dunes, S.D., was named the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Offensive Player of the Week.
Niles returned both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the win at Midland. He returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Aside from his kick return exploits, Niles posted his fifth 100-yard pass receiving performance of the season with five receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 22.8 yards per catch in the Midland game.
Niles was also named the GPAC Special Teams Player of the Week earlier this season after he had three punt returns for 87 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown, in the Mustangs’ 49-0 victory against Dordt College on Sept. 19.
Niles has 11 punt returns for 214 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 19.5 yards per return and is the Mustangs’ leading pass receiver with 57 receptions for 1113 yards and 12 touchdowns for an average of 19.5 yards per catch. His 1113 reception yards is the eighth highest single-season total in Morningside history.
Solsma gave the Mustangs a school record breaking performance against Midland while making the first start of his collegiate career. Solsma completed all 15 of his pass attempts for 352 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 12 yards and a touchdown to finish with 364 yards total offense. His 15-for-15 passing performance broke the former Morningside single game pass completion percentage record of 95.5 percent that was set by Tim Richard, who completed 21 of 22 pass attempts against Doane in 2009. Solsma threw touchdown passes on his first two attempts of the game with scoring strikes of 74 and 19 yards to Niles and later threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kavan. Solsma also scored a touchdown with a three-yard run in the first quarter.
Solsma has completed 48 of 61 pass attempts (78.7 percent) for 925 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception this season.
Morningside will take a 9-1 record, including a perfect 8-0 mark in the GPAC, into this Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game against undefeated Doane College when the teams will battle for the GPAC championship.