Sluka, Jones, Eastern Kentucky Headline FCS Weekly Awards
Holy Cross’ Matthew Sluka, William & Mary’s Jalen Jones, Lindenwood’s Andrew Martin and UC Davis’ Rex Connors were selected Monday as the FedEx Ground FCS National Players of the Week for Week 2 college football games through Saturday.
In addition, Eastern Kentucky earned FCS National Team of the Week.
The five honorees plus honorable mention selections:
FedEx Ground FCS National Offensive Player of the Week
Matthew Sluka, Holy Cross, QB, Jr., 6-3, 215, Locust Valley, New York
Sluka’s 46-yard pass on the game’s final play was answered with a “Hail Mary” touchdown to Jalen Coker as Holy Cross beat Buffalo 37-31, marking the three-time defending Patriot League champion’s second consecutive season with an FBS victory. Sluka set career highs for touchdown passes (three, including a 62-yarder), yards of total offense (384) and rushing yards (146).
Honorable Mention: Darion Chafin, WR, UIW; Paxton DeLaurent, QB, Southeast Missouri; Tim DeMorat, QB, Fordham; Mike DiLiello, QB, Austin Peay; Jaden Jones, QB, Cal Poly; Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire; Parker McKinney, QB, Eastern Kentucky; Tommy Schuster, QB, North Dakota; Jason Shelley, QB, Missouri State; Jaden Shirden, RB, Monmouth
FedEx Ground FCS National Defensive Player of the Week
Jalen Jones, William & Mary, CB, R-Fr., 6-0, 185, Chesapeake, Virginia
Filling in for an injured starter, Jones had three interceptions, including a pick-six, to help William & Mary defeat Campbell 37-21. The first Tribe player with an INT hat trick since 2009 scored on a 33-yard return in the third quarter, and his other two interceptions halted drives in W&M territory. His returns totaled 61 yards, and he had two other pass breakups and one solo tackle.
Honorable Mention: Tyrin Bradley, DL, Abilene Christian; Jamari Brown, FS, Gardner-Webb; BJ Davis, LB, South Carolina State; Nyles Gaddy, LB, Jackson State; TyGee Leach, DB, Lehigh; Chandler Martin, LB, ETSU; Victor Nelson Jr., S, LIU; Gavin Pringle, DB, Bucknell; Zeke Vandenburgh, LB, Illinois State; Chris Whittaker, LB, UIW; Darius Williams, LB, Texas A&M-Commerce
FedEx Ground FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week
Andrew Martin, Lindenwood, RB/Coverage, Jr., 5-8, 178, Holden, Missouri
Martin recovered a blocked punt in the Houston Baptist end zone with 28 seconds remaining to give Lindenwood a 21-20 road victory in its first game as an FCS program. The Lions trailed 20-15 when Jalen Bethany blocked the punt. Martin entered the game without a career TD, but he had two, first scoring on a four-yard run in the third quarter to pull the new Ohio Valley Conference member within 20-12. He finished with 49 rushing yards and had a special teams tackle.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Cardoza-Chicas, PK, Delaware State; Jalen Carr, KR, Illinois State; Taco Dowler, PR, Montana State; Chris Esqueda, PK, Lamar; TJ Magee, KR, Davidson; Gary Rosemond, DB/KR, Merrimack; Logan Seibert, PK, Lindenwood; Jomard Valsin, Edge/ST, Northwestern State
FedEx Ground FCS National Freshman Player of the Week
Rex Connors, UC Davis, S, R-Fr., 6-1, 203, Pleasant Grove, Utah
Connors was all over the field while the visitors from the Big Sky fell just short of second-ranked South Dakota State 24-22 in a rematch of a 2021 first-round playoff game. His career-high 17 tackles, including 10 solos, were the most by an Aggie since at least 2007, and he also intercepted two passes. Just after his first pick in the first quarter, he made a solo tackle on each of SDSU’s next four offensive plays.
Honorable Mention: Joey Audia, RS, Butler; Makai Jackson, WR, Saint Francis; Jaden Jones, QB, Cal Poly; A.J. Pena, LB, Rhode Island; SunDerrick Powell, RB, North Alabama
FedEx Ground FCS National Team of the Week
Eastern Kentucky (59-57, seven-OT win at Bowling Green)
The Colonels’ first win over an FBS opponent since 2014 marked the most overtimes for an FCS program against a Division I opponent. Parker McKinney’s third touchdown pass on the final play of the fourth quarter helped force OT, and he connected on a winning two-point pass to running back Braedon Sloan to end the seventh extra session. The ASUN squad is being led by acting head coach Garry McPeek while third-year head coach Walt Wells recovers from a recent cardiac episode.
Honorable Mention: The Citadel (20-17 win over ETSU); Northern Arizona (10-3 win at Sam Houston); Weber State (35-7 win at Utah State)