Zaidan, Fleming earn OVC Specialist, Newcomer honors

Zaidan, Fleming earn OVC Specialist, Newcomer honors

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – There were plenty of players providing heroics for the Tennessee Tech football team Saturday night even though the game ended in a 43-37 double-overtime loss to No. 23 Southeast Missouri.

The Ohio Valley Conference football contacts recognized that as the Golden Eagles earned two OVC player of the week nods. Senior kicker Haidar Zaidan was named the OVC Specialist of the Week and freshman wide receiver/return specialist Metrius Fleming was named the OVC Newcomer of the Week on Sunday.

Zaidan, who hadn't kicked a field goal since Week 1's double-overtime win over Samford, returned to field goal duties and went 3-for-4 on field goal tries, including a career-long 51-yarder that tied the game at 30-all with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. The kick is the 10th longest field goal in the Football Championship Subdivision this season and tied for the seventh longest in school history with elite company: Nick Madonia, Justin Kraemer, Josh Foster, Ryan Weeks, Bruce Winningham, Murray Cunningham and John Swords.

The senior also made field goals from 33 and 35 yards and was 4-for-4 on PATs. Zaidan also had six kickoffs for 388 yards, averaging 64.7 yards and had four touchbacks.

Fleming earned the OVC Newcomer honor for the fourth time this season. He accounted for a season-best 246 all-purpose yards, the second-most in the league this season. The true freshman caught nine passes for 108 yards, rushed for 16 yards – including a 12-yard touchdown run – and returned five kickoffs for 122 yards, an average of 24.4 yards per return. He had a 31-yard kickoff return with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter to set up the game-tying field goal just over a minute later.

He ranks second nationally in kickoff returns (35.8 yds/return), 19th in all-purpose yards (140.0/game, second among FCS freshmen), 25th in combined kickoff yards (322) and 36th in receiving yards (427).

The Golden Eagles (4-2, 1-1 OVC) return to action on Saturday as they host UT Martin. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Photo by Tony Marable