Story courtesy of the Mountain West Conference
Photo courtesy of Nevada Athletics
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Stefphon Jefferson (Nevada), Brett Smith (Wyoming), Tani Maka (UNLV) and Justus Adams (New Mexico) are the Mountain West Players of the Week for games through Sept. 22. Jefferson and Smith share Offensive Player of the Week honors, while Maka garners the Defensive Player award and Adams receives Special Teams recognition. This marks the third career MW weekly accolade for Smith, second for Jefferson and first for both Maka and Adams.
CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
STEFPHON JEFFERSON, NEVADA
Junior, Running Back, Visalia, Calif./El Diamante HS
Junior running back Stefphon Jefferson broke Nevada and Mountain West records and tied the NCAA mark for most touchdowns scored with seven TDs in the Wolf Pack’s 69-24 win at Hawai’i. Jefferson, who did not play in the fourth quarter, had six touchdowns and 170 yards rushing on 31 carries and also caught three passes for 76 yards and another score. His seven scores tied the NCAA record held by three players (Arnold “Showboat” Boykin, Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State, Dec. 1, 1951; Marshall Faulk, San Diego State vs. Pacific, Sept. 14, 1991; Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State vs. SMU, Sept. 20, 2003). He also set the school and Conference single-game records for points scored (42), rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. Five of Jefferson’s seven TDs came in the first half, beginning with a 55-yard reception for the first score of the game. The Visalia, Calif., native then reeled off rushing scores of three, two, one and five yards in the second quarter to set a Nevada record for most touchdowns in a half. He added scoring runs of eight and one yards in the third quarter for his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the contest. Jefferson, who was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, has topped the 100-yard mark in all four games this season and leads the nation with a 174.8 rushing average.
CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BRETT SMITH, WYOMING
Sophomore, Quarterback, Salem, Ore./West Salem HS
Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith threw for career-highs in passing yards (365) and touchdown passes (5) as he led Wyoming to a 40-37 overtime road win at Idaho. His 365 passing yards rank as the best single-game performance in the Mountain West this season and the 18th-best in the NCAA. Smith completed 65.7 percent of his passes (23-of-35), and guided Wyoming on scoring drives of 75, 90, 97 and 78 yards. Smith added 22 yards rushing for 387 yards of total offense on the day, marking the second-best total of his college career. He connected with senior wide receiver Chris McNeill on eight of those completions for 219 yards. Included among Smith’s and McNeill’s connections were a 73-yard touchdown pass and an 80-yard connection. In overtime with Wyoming trailing 34-37 following a Vandal field goal, Smith connected with Jalen Claiborne on a 25-yard TD pass on the Cowboys’ first play of the possession to give Wyoming the win.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
TANI MAKA, UNLV
Junior, Linebacker, Long Beach, Calif./Jordan HS
Junior linebacker Tani Maka recorded 10 total tackles and played a key role in several defensive stops to help UNLV earn its first win of the season vs. Air Force Saturday night. The Long Beach, Calif., product capped off the one of the biggest plays of the game when he grabbed a Falcon fumble out of the air to mark AFA's first turnover of the 2012 season. With Air Force leading, 28-17, and driving for another score midway through the third quarter, Rebel teammate Kenny Brown popped the ball out of the receiver’s arms at the UNLV 22-yard line and Maka made his recovery. The Rebels then drove the field for a touchdown and pulled to within 28-24 before later taking the lead in the 38-35 final. Earlier in the contest, Maka helped force two turnover-on-downs situations, the first of which led to a UNLV touchdown that tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JUSTUS ADAMS, NEW MEXICO
Junior, Kicker, Albuquerque, N.M./LaCueva HS
Junior Justus Adams kicked field goals of 24 and 29 yards to help the Lobos post a 27-14 win at in-state rival New Mexico State. Adams put the Lobos on the board first with his 24-yard kick midway through the first quarter. His 29-yard boot as time expired in the first half staked the Lobos to a 13-7 lead heading into the locker room. The Albuquerque, N.M. native also converted all three of his PATs to finish the game with nine points overall and help the Lobos snap a 24-game road losing streak.