Courtesy of the Big South Conference
CHARLOTTE, N.C. â€“ Gardner-Webb wide receiver James Perry III (Greensboro, N.C.) and Liberty quarterback Mike Brown (Charlottesville, Va.) have been named the Choice Hotels Big South Football Co-Offensive Players of the Week for their performances in historic wins over FBS programs this past Saturday. In addition, Runninâ€™ Bulldogs defensive back Bryce Nixon (Ellenwood, Ga.) has been selected as the Defensive Player of the Week, Gardner-Webb kicker Ryan Gates (Sharpsburg, Ga.) is the Special Teams Player of the Week, while teammate Juanne Blount (Wingate, N.C.) is The Crons Brand Freshman of the Week.
Perry caught 10 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns in Gardner-Webbâ€™s 38-37 overtime win at Akron. His two TD catches rallied the Runninâ€™ Bulldogs back from a 31-17 deficit to tie the game with five minutes left. His first score came from four yards away â€“ a diving catch that cut the lead to 31-24 with 18 seconds left in the third quarter. His final score was from 13 yards out to help tie the game. In overtime, Perry accounted for 16 of the 25 yards gained, as he rushed seven yards for a first down and hauled in a nine-yard catch that set-up Gardner-Webbâ€™s final scoring play.
Brown amassed a career-high 363 yards of total offense and was responsible for three of Libertyâ€™s four touchdowns in the Flamesâ€™ 27-23 victory at Ball State. He was 24-of-38 passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed 18 times for 87 yards and the eventual game-winning score from one yard out with 4:55 left in the contest. On the game-winning drive, Brown was 3-of-3 passing for 30 yards and carried the ball five times for 28 yards on the nine-play, 74-yard drive.
Nixon recorded nine tackles (eight solo), broke up a pass in the end zone, recovered a fumble inside his teamâ€™s five-yard line and blocked the Zipsâ€™ extra point attempt in overtime. Nixonâ€™s PBU in the end zone came with the score tied at 31-31 with less than 30 seconds to play in regulation. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Nixon pounced on a loose ball at the GWU four-yard line that halted an Akron drive and preserved the tie score with 2:46 remaining. After the Zips scored a touchdown on their first overtime possession, Nixon came around the left edge and blocked the PAT attempt to give the Runninâ€™ Bulldogs a chance for the win.
Gates was perfect on all six of his place kicks Saturday at Akron, going 5-of-5 on PATs and making his lone field goal attempt from 40 yards out â€“ his first field goal attempt in six games. He also had a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return near midfield with GWU trailing 31-24 in the third quarter. Gates finished with eight points scored and his PAT kick in overtime provided the winning margin to mark Gardner-Webbâ€™s and the Big South Conference â€™s first-ever win over an FBS program.
Blount rushed for a team-high 69 yards and scored the game-tying touchdown in overtime at Akron. Making his first career start in just his second collegiate game, Blount had a 15-yard burst in the first quarter that led to an eventual Gardner-Webb field goal, and later bulled into the end zone from four yards out on third down to tie the score at 37-37, setting up the historic victory.
Also nominated for Offensive Player of the Week: A.J. Toscano (Charleston Southern), Eric Oâ€™Neal (Coastal Carolina), Michael Ruff (Presbyterian College) and Brock Jackolski (Stony Brook).
Also nominated for Defensive Player of the Week: Chris Patrick (Charleston Southern), Andrae Jacobs (Coastal Carolina), Asa Chapman (Liberty) and Justin Bethel (Presbyterian College).
Also nominated for Special Teams Player of the Week: Justin Durham (Coastal Carolina), Patrick Morgano (Presbyterian College) and Wesley Skiffington (Stony Brook).
Also nominated for Freshman of the Week: James Nunley (Charleston Southern) and LJ Perry (Presbyterian College).