Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - McNeese State senior Diontae Spencer was an all-around machine Saturday in his team's win over Stephen F. Austin. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the first quarter, then returned a punt for a score in the fourth quarter.
Spencer's three return touchdowns tied an FCS record and set both school and Southland Conference marks. It's easy to see why the explosive return man was named the national special teams performer of the week on Monday.
Spencer, Eastern Washington's Vernon Adams, Southeastern Louisiana's Bryan Bennett, Norfolk State's Lynden Trail, Furman's Marcus McMorris and Mercer's John Russ have been named The Sports Network FCS National Players of the Week for all Week 11 games ending Nov. 9.
CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington, QB, So., 6-0, 190, Pasadena, Calif.
The stage lights were bright for Adams on Saturday as his Eagles used a strong second half to down Big Sky Conference rival Montana State, 54-29. Adams was nearly perfect against the previously No. 4-ranked team in the FCS, completing 16-of-18 pass attempts for 300 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. The sophomore added 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground to round out his day. He finished with an efficiency rating of 302.2, which ranks second in an FCS game this season. Adams' passing touchdown total is now 39 on the season, which is an Eastern Washington single-season record. He is three touchdown passes away from tying the Big Sky season record.
Bryan Bennett, Southeastern Louisiana, QB, Jr., 6-3, 205, Granada Hills, Calif.
Like Adams, the spotlight was on Bennett and the Lions as they took on Southland Conference power Central Arkansas Saturday. And like Adams, Bennett led his conference-leading team to victory. The junior quarterback threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears, adding a season-high 142 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. Bennett's 13 rushing touchdowns is a conference high this season, and is the second-highest total in Southeastern Louisiana history. The 58 points the Lions scored Saturday marked the highest single-game point total against a Southland opponent in program history.
CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Lynden Trail, Norfolk State, LB, R-Jr., 6-7, 260, Miami, Fla.
The giant 6-foot-7 linebacker/defensive end led a Norfolk State defensive group in an upset win over Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference powerhouse Bethune- Cookman. Trail recorded eight tackles with 2 1/2 tackles for loss, including 1 1/2 sacks. He added two forced fumbles and a pass breakup to balance out his stat sheet. Entering the game, Bethune-Cookman had won 18 consecutive MEAC contests dating back to the 2011 season. The Wildcats were a perfect 5-0 until running into the Spartans and Trail. One of the fumbles Trail forced was picked up and returned for a Spartans touchdown. As a squad, the NSU defense forced five turnovers and held B-CU to 154 rushing yards - the team's second-lowest rushing total this season.
Marcus McMorris, Furman, LB, R-Jr., 6-0, 198, Newberry, S.C.
Starting his first game at linebacker after transitioning from safety, McMorris set a career best with 11 total tackles in Furman's win over then-No. 20 Samford. McMorris did most of his damage in the second quarter of action, as the junior recorded a sack and forced and recovered a fumble on the Samford 11- yard line which was later converted into a Paladins touchdown. In the fourth quarter, McMorris intercepted an Andy Summerlin pass and returned it for an 89- yard touchdown to seal the win for the Paladins.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Diontae Spencer, McNeese State, WR, Sr., 5-9, 161, New Iberia, La.
Spencer had a day unlike any other special teams player in the country Saturday. The senior wide receiver returned two first-quarter kickoffs for touchdowns in McNeese State's hefty win over Stephen F. Austin. The first kickoff Spencer returned went for 93 yards, followed by an 85-yard return just minutes later. He wasn't done. In the fourth quarter, Spencer took a punt return 35 yards to the end zone for his third return touchdown of the game. He finished the contest with 365 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns (he added two receiving scores) - 152 receiving yards and 213 total return yards. His three return touchdowns tied the FCS record and set both school and conference records.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
John Russ, Mercer, QB, R-Fr., 6-0, 192, Buford, Ga.
Russ was recently added to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List, and on Saturday the redshirt freshman proved he belongs right up the in the discussion for yearly freshman honors. The quarterback of the start-up Mercer program helped lead his Bears to a 45-42 win over Pioneer Football League foe Jacksonville. Russ, the dual-threat quarterback, passed for 217 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, and added 145 rushing yards with two scores on the ground. His five total touchdowns and 362 total yards helped the Bears improve to 5-1 in the PFL and 8-1 overall.