Story courtesy of the Ohio Valley Conference
Photo courtesy of Eastern Illinois Athletics
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB • Jr., 6-3, 206 • Arlington Heights, Ill. • Eastern Illinois
Garoppolo became just the seventh Eastern Illinois quarterback to pass for five or more touchdowns in a game as the Panthers opened the season with a 49-28 win over rival Southern Illinois. The junior completed 32-of-49 passes for a career-high 369 yards and five touchdowns. Garoppolo threw touchdowns passes to four different receivers and the touchdowns went for 2, 14, 50, 11 and 31 yards. The five touchdowns moved him into fifth in EIU history (39) while the 369 passing yards were the 15th-best single-game effort in school history.
Others Nominated: Alan Bonner, Jacksonville State; Scott Lathrop, Southeast Missouri; Michael German, Tennessee State; Tre Lamb, Tennessee Tech; Jason McNair, UT Martin.
Brooklyn Fox, DB • R-Sr., 6-4, 215 • Tulsa, Okla. • Eastern Kentucky
Fox intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in Eastern Kentucky’s season-opening loss at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe Purdue. The senior’s first interception came on the Boilermakers first drive of the game, picking off a pass at EKU’s own 34-yard line. Fox also picked off a pass at the EKU 30-yard line in the second quarter, returning it 46 yards to the Purdue 24-yard line. The fumble recovery came early in the fourth quarter, setting the Colonels up at the Purdue 20-yard line. Fox was the first EKU player to tally three turnovers in a game since 2009 (Patrick McClellan).
Others Nominated: DJ Bland, Eastern Illinois; Rashad Smith, Jacksonville State; George Neuhaus, Southeast Missouri; Nick Thrasher, Tennessee State; Marty Jones, Tennessee Tech; Chris Wright, UT Martin.
Cody Sandlin, K • Sr., 6-2, 180 • Goodlettsville, Tenn. • UT Martin
After missing his first two field goal attempts of the night, Sandlin was money when it mattered, converting two field goals in the final five minutes of the game to give UT Martin a 20-17 victory at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe Memphis. The win was the first for the Skyhawks over a FBS opponent and just the 19th all-time win for an OVC team against the higher subdivision. With 4:52 to play Sandlin connected on a 26-yard attempt to give UTM a 17-10 advantage. His most important kick of the game came with four seconds remaining, as the senior connected from 43-yards out to break a 17-17 tie and give the Skyhawks the victory.
Others Nominated: Tavares Crawford, Eastern Illinois; Griffin Thomas, Jacksonville State, Steven Mix, Murray State; Joe Vucic, Southeast Missouri; Jamin Godfrey, Tennessee State; Zach Sharp, Tennessee Tech.
Troymaine Pope, RB • Fr., 5-9, 198 • Anniston, Ala. • Jacksonville State
In his collegiate debut Pope carried the ball 14 times for 65 yards (4.6 yards/carry) and caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in Jacksonville State’s loss at No. 10 Arkansas. The touchdown catch came with 40 seconds to play in the first quarter and tied the game at seven against the high-powered Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team. Pope had a long run of 23 yards in the contest and was the team’s leading rusher.
Da’Rick Rogers, WR • Jr., 6-3, 205 • Calhoun, Ga. • Tennessee Tech
In his Tennessee Tech debut Rogers, the transfer from Tennessee who joined the team just days before the game, caught three passes for 75 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown with four seconds to play in the first half. That touchdown was setup by his 52-yard catch earlier in the same drive. The score put Tennessee Tech up 24-7 in a game it would go on to win 41-31.
Others Nominated: LeQuince McCall, Eastern Illinois; Darian Yahyavi, Murray State; Scott Lathrop, Southeast Missouri; A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State.