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February 12, 2012

Football team celebrates championship, award winners announced

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. –  Senior Tim Benford accepted his third Robert Hill Johnson Award, senior Charlie Stephens won the inaugural Bill Dupes Inspirational Award, and the pair was among four players votes as permanent team captains for the 2011 season.

Those were among the highlights of the afternoon as Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown and his staff and players gathered Sunday with fans, friends and family to celebrate the team’s 2011 Ohio Valley Conference championship and reveal the team awards.

Benford and Stephens were joined by seniors Jamere Hogue and Scott Schweitzer as the team captains for their leadership and performances in Tech capturing its first OVC football title in 36 years.
 
Benford, who also won the Most Valuable Receiver Award, was recognized for a season that included 65 catches for 923 yards and earned him the OVC Offensive Player of the Year award. He closed his four-year career with every school receiving record, and is ranked second all-time in the OVC in both receptions and receiving yards. He became the third player in Tech history to win the Robert Hill Johnson Award – considered the premier honor for a Tech player – three times, joiing Larry Schreiber and Larry Shipp.

Stevens won the brand new Bill Dupes Inspirational Award, named in memory of former TTU coach Bill Dupes and presented by members of his family. Stevens wrapped up a four-year Golden Eagle playing career as one of the keys to Tech’s offense for his hard-nosed style of play. Stevens finished the year with 20 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

Hogue, who also shared the Most Valuable Defensive Lineman Award with senior Travis Adkins, led Tech’s down linemen with 44 total tackles. He also had 4.5 tackles-for-loss, two quarterback sacks and recovered to fumbles.

Schweitzer, who also won the Most Valuable Offensive Lineman Award, was a mainstay in the Golden Eagle attack, starting 42 games during the past four years and helping the team to establish 26 offensive school records in 2011.

Three additional MVP awards were handed out by position. Senior Jake McIntosh was voted the Most Valuable Linebacker, Dontey Gay won the Most Valuable Offensive Back Award, and Richmond Tooley claimed the inaugural Tony Stone Bumble Bee DB Award.

McIntosh ranked fourth on the team in total tackles with 73 to close his career with 252 total tackles. He also made two interceptions and had four tackles-for-loss.

Gay earned second-team all-OVC honors after rushing for 1,045 yards and setting a school record with 15 touchdowns, leading the league in scoring. Gay also had 19 catches for 157 yards, and finished with 1,262 all-purpose yards.

The Bumble Bee Award is a newly established honor to recognize former coach and TTU Hall of Fame inductee Tony Stone, who molded Golden Eagle his ‘70s secondary units into some of the most effective in OVC history. The first honor went to senior Richmond Tooley, who closed his career ranked second on the team 79 total tackles, along with two interceptions, six passes broken up and one fumble recovery.

Junior quarterback Tre Lamb received two major awards, being named the Most Valuable Offensive Player and winner of the Team Leadership Award. Lamb set four school passing records in 2011 and four more school total offense records. He passed for 2,342 yards and 17 touchdowns, completing 65.2 percent of his passes, and accounted for 2,555 yards of total offense while accounting for 23 touchdowns.

Senior Corey Watson also accepted two major honors, being voted the Most Valuable Defensive Player and also winning the Tech Pride Award. Watson, who was an FCS ADA Scholar-Athlete and a CoSIDA Academic All-District pick, moved into a starting role at an outside linebacker spot and constantly made game-changing plays for the Golden Eagles. He ranked fifth on the team in total tackles with 52, and also made 3.5 tackles-for-loss, broke up seven passes, recovered two fumbles and forced one. He also led the team with three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

The Most Valuable Special Teams Player Award was presented to punter/holder Nick Campbell. As a senior, Campbell emerged as one of the most effective punters in the nation. He averaged 39.3 yards per kick with 12 downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and forced 13 fair catches.

Junior Zack Ziegler, a hybrid player who serves as a receiver/runningback, was recognized with the Unsung Hero Award. Ziegler ranked second on the team in receiving with 37 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 23 carries for 123 yards and another touchdown.

In addition to all of the 2011 team honors, Brown recognized members of the 1961 OVC championship Golden Eagle team who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their feat, and presented soon-to-retire University President Dr. Bob Bell and First Lady Gloria with their own OVC championship trophy, a commemorative game ball, and a solid chocolate football.