RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (GAC) - The Great American Conference has announced the league's Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for the eighth week of the season. Northwestern Oklahoma State's Avery Morris stepped up because of injuries to claim the Offensive Player of the Week honor. Arkansas Tech's DeAndre Bonner recovered two key fumbles to earn the Defensive Player of the Week and Henderson State's Israel Valentin opened the Reddies' 49-14 win with a GAC-record 97-yard kick return to garner the Special Teams Player of the Week.
GAC CO- OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK - Avery Morris, Northwestern Oklahoma State, WR, Jr., Houston, Texas Morris - who had all of eight career catches in two-plus years coming in to Saturday - picked a perfect time to break out. With the Rangers' top two receivers sidelined due to injury, Morris emerged with seven catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns. His final touchdown capped a furious Northwestern comeback from 13 points down. The Rangers' 34-30 victory was their first as an NCAA Division II school. In seven games prior to Saturday, the junior had recorded just one reception.
GAC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK - DeAndre Bonner, Arkansas Tech, DB, Jr., Duncanville, Texas While Bonner's stat line might not be impressive, the timing of his two fumble recoveries could not be better. Bonner recovered a fumble in the end zone in the third quarter, preventing a UAM score. Then Bonner recovered the final fumble in the end zone with 15 seconds left that sealed the Wonder Boys' 24-21 victory over the Boll Weevils.
GAC SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK - Israel Valentin, Henderson State, KR/WR, So., Fort Worth, Texas For the second time this year, Israel Valentin ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown, this time a 97-yard return, topping his previous best of 92 yards against Arkansas Tech. He set a GAC record for longest kick return besting the 93-yard run by Arkansas Tech's A.J. Whitmore, set last season. Valentin ended the game with 140 all-purpose yards while also having three catches, including a 38-yard TD reception.
- Jercolby Bradley, QB, Jr., Southeastern Oklahoma State (Threw for 149 yards and ran for 93; accounted for 3 TDs vs SWOSU)
- Jamal Nixon, WR, Jr., Arkansas-Monticello (Caught 14 passes for 212 yards and two TDs; first 200-yard game in GAC this year)
- Brett Reece, WR, Sr., Ouachita Baptist (Caught seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown)
- Kevin Rodgers, QB, So., Henderson State (Threw for 378 yards and three TDs; set HSU career TD record with 45)
- Tyler Sykora, QB, Jr., Southern Arkansas (Went 25-for-44 for 337 yards with an 87-yard pass; threw four TD passes)
- Fred Gaines, DB, Jr., East Central (Picked off his seventh pass of the season, tying for the NCAA lead; added seven tackles)
- Brandon Moton, DT, Jr., Southern Arkansas (Finished with five tackles, 3.0 for loss and two sacks netting in -16 yards)
- Derek Ogg, LB, So., Southeastern Oklahoma State (Registered 2.0 sacks, 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble)
- Clark Gaddis, P, JR, Ouachita Baptist (Averaged 40.8 yards/punt on four punts with long of 47 and two inside the 20)
- Rafael Thomas, PR, Sr., Southern Arkansas (Returned four punts for 102 yards and ran one back 55 yards for a score)