COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - After one of the best games of his football
career, Tennessee Tech junior Dustin Dillehay has turned quite a
few heads. First he grabbed the attention of the Ohio Valley
Conference, earning the OVC's Defensive Player of the Week honor on
Sunday, but most recently Dillehay got some attention on a much
bigger scale, being named the FCS National Defensive Player of the
Week by The Sports Network and a National All-Star by College
Dillehay made a career-high 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops and a tackle-for-loss, but the play of the game was his 41-yard interception-for-touchdown. The pic came in the fourth quarter of a one-possession game, and completely changed the completion of the game, sealing Tech's 35-28 win over UT Martin in OVC action Saturday. While his defensive touchdown may have clinched the game on the scoreboard, Dillehay made another play that won't go in the box score but was equally as crucial. After UT Martin scored its final touchdown to make the score 35-28 with a minute and a half to play, Dillehay cleanly recovered UTM's onside kick attempt, allowing Tech to run out the clock. His 14 tackles were the most by any Golden Eagle and the third highest total by any OVC player this season.
"Dustin is a very special player, and he has worked as hard as anybody I've seen year-round to get where he is," Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown said. "We couldn't be more proud of him."
The 5-9, 190 pound junior from Hartsville, Tenn., was one of three players to earn national honors from The Sports Network, and one of four players to earn national honors from College Sporting News. Southern Illinois running back Deji Karim was the only other player to be honored by both publications. James Mallory of Central Connecticut State was joined Dillehay and Karim on TSN's list, being named Special Teams Player of the Week. Brown quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero and Monmouth Safety Joe Gumbs join the two as CSN All-Stars.
"It's a huge honor, considering there are so many teams and so many players who had great games, this honor is unbelievable." Dillehay said. "It's definitely something I'll remember for a long time. I knew I played alright, and to get OVC Defensive Player of the Week was great, but to get National Defensive Player of the Week, that's something I never even thought of."
The former walk-on now has two interceptions on the season.
The win gives Tech the inside track at the Sgt. York Trophy, the trophy given out to the OVC team with the best record against its in-state conference foes. Tech has beaten Austin Peay and UT Martin, and will face its final opponent in the chase for the trophy, Tennessee State in Cookeville on Oct. 31 for Homecoming.
"We appreciative that Dustin's performance earned him these national accolades," Tennessee Tech Director of Athletics Mark Wilson said. "We're proud of the way Dustin represents this university and excited that he helped lead his team to victory."
The Golden Eagles will travel to Eastern Illinois on Oct. 17 before returning home for back-to-back OVC home games. Tech will host Southeast Missouri on Oct. 24 before battling Tennessee State at home on Oct. 31. For ticket information contact the ticket office at 372-3940.
The Sports Network FCS National Players of the Week
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Deji Karim, Southern Illinois, Senior, 5-11, 200, Running Back/Returnman
Oklahoma City, OK
Karim piled up 310 all-purpose yards and a career-high 273 yards rushing with
three touchdowns, helping Southern Illinois outlast Illinois State at home
Saturday in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game. Karim's 273 on 28
carries yards were the third most in a single-game in school history and it was
his second 200-yard rushing game of the season. Karim got the Saluki offense
started midway through the first period with a 93-yard TD burst. He added a 31-
yard scoring run late in the first quarter and a 21-yard score in the fourth
stanza. Karim, who ranks first nationally in rushing, averaged 9.8 yards per
carry during the game, the third highest average for a Saluki back with at
least 20 attempts. He also caught one pass for four yards and had two kickoff
returns for 33 yards. Karim is first nationally in all-purpose yardage (228 per
game) and is second in kickoff returns (35.1).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dustin Dillehay, Tennessee Tech, Junior, 5-9, 190, DB, Hartsville,
Dillehay had 14 tackles, 10 of them solo stops, and intercepted a pass that he
returned for a fourth-quarter touchdown that provided the winning margin as
Tennessee Tech defeated Tennessee-Martin 35-28 Saturday on the road. With his
team leading 28-21, Dillehay picked off UTM quarterback Cade Thompson and
returned the ball 41 yards for a score to put the Golden Eagles up 35-21 with
8:11 to play. His 14-tackle performance was the third-highest among OVC players
this season. Dillehay, who is the team's leading tackler with 41 on the season,
also had one tackle for a two-yard loss during the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
James Mallory, Central Connecticut State, 5-10, 200, Running Back, Buffalo, NY
Mallory has established himself as one of the nation's top running backs, but
he made a mark on special teams, blocking a pair of punts in the Blue Devils'
42-21 Northeast Conference victory over Robert Morris on Saturday. His first
punt block set up a touchdown as CCSU tied the game at 7 in the first quarter
and his second block in the second period gave the Blue Devils excellent field
position to set up a go-ahead touchdown. Mallory also blocked a punt two weeks
earlier against Columbia. Mallory, who ranks 16th nationally in rushing,
carried 23 times for 113 yards in the win over Robert Morris.
College Sporting News National All-Stars, 10/12/2009
Kyle Newhall-Caballero, Brown, QB, 6-3, 210, Jr., Gilbert, AZ
Brown junior quarterback Kyle Newhall (Gilbert, Ariz.) out-dueled Holy Cross' All-American quarterback Dominic Randolph and established a new Ivy League record with 46 completions on 61 attempts, while accumulating 431 passing yards in the Bears' 34-31 upset win over the Crusaders. His 46 completions broke the previous Ivy League mark of 44 completions by Brown's Kyle Slager against Rhode Island on October 5, 2002. Newhall also threw two touchdown passes of 10 and 22 yards and ran for another score on a seven-yard run. Newhall ran for 14 yards and his 445 yards of total offense rank ninth in the Brown record book, and 21st in Ivy football history.
Deji Karim, Southern Illinois, RB, 5-11, 200, Sr., Oklahoma City, OK
Karim had 310 all-purpose yards and a career-high 273 yards rushing with three TDs in SIU's 43-23 win over Illinois State. Karim's 273 yards were the third most in a single-game in school history and it was his second 200-yard rushing game of the season. One of his three TD runs was a 93-yarder, besting his 92-yard TD from the past week. Karim had four rushes that were 20-yards or more, including all three of his touchdown runs. He averaged 9.8 yards per carry, which is the third highest average for a Saluki back with at least 20 attempts (he had 28 carries).
Jose Gumbs, Monmouth, S, 5-10, 205, So., Queens, NY
After missing two games due to injury, Gumbs came back in a big way against Northeast Conference rival Wagner. The sophomore The safety recorded 10 tackles (8 solo), 2.0 TFL, one sack, one forced fumble, and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. Gumbs set the tone from the start when he stuffed Lon Woods for a loss of three yards on Wagner's first play from scrimmage. The 2009 NEC Defensive Rookie of the Year put Monmouth on the scoreboard by intercepting a pass and returning 35 yards for a first-quarter touchdown that tied the game at 7-7. With Wagner threatening to score on 3rd-and-11 at the Monmouth 26-yard line, Gumbs broke through for his first sack of the season and his jarring hit forced a drive-ending fumble.
Dustin Dillehay, Tennessee Tech, DB, 5-9, 190, Jr., Hartsville, TN
Dillehay led Tennessee Tech with 14 tackles (10 solo) and intercepted a pass that he returned 41 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the Golden Eagles 35-28 road victory at UT Martin. He also added a tackle-for-loss. With his team leading 28-21, Dillehay picked off UTM quarterback Cade Thompson and returned the ball 41 yards for a score to put the Golden Eagles up 35-21 with 8:11 to play. His 14-tackle performance was the third-highest among OVC players this season.