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Six Pioneers named to All-SAC football team

Six Pioneers named to All-SAC football team

ROCK HILL, S.C. --- Six Tusculum University student-athletes have been named to the 2019 All-South Atlantic Conference Football Team announced league officials on Tuesday. The team is selected by a vote of the league's nine head football coaches.

Keveon Broadwater, Ivan Hogans and Dee Alford were named to the All-SAC first team, while Tory Ponder, Jackson Cauthen and Malik Goodman garnered second team recognition. TU's six All-SAC selections were the fourth most in the league.

Broadwater returns to the All-SAC first team for a second straight year on the offensive line. The 6-4, 315-pound senior from Gaffney, South Carolina, started in all 11 games this season at left tackle.  In 2018, he also received D2CAA All-Region second team honors and third team All-Region accolades by the Football Gazette. He finished his TU career with 42 consecutive starts on the offensive line.

Hogans also returns to the All-SAC first team at linebacker. The 6-2, 219-pound junior from Stockbridge, Georgia, led the Pioneers in tackles for a second straight year as he finished with 85 tackles, including a season-best 14 stops in the season finale at Carson-Newman. He posted 10 or more tackles on four occasions and finished the year with 10 tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries.

For his 31-game career, Hogans has accounted for 230 career tackles, which are the 13th most in program history. His 32 career tackles for loss are also 10th in the TU record book.  In 2018, he was tabbed to the D2CCA All-Region second team and the Football Gazette All-Region third team.

Alford, a 6-0, 170-pound senior cornerback from Griffin, Georgia earns All-SAC recognition for a third time, becoming the second TU defensive back to achieve this feat.  Former TU great DJ Starling earned All-SAC honors in 2000, 2001 and 2003.  Alford earns first team honors after being named to the All-SAC second team in 2017 and 2018. 

This season, Alford led the SAC with 20 passes defended (5th in NCAA II) including his team-best five interceptions (3rd SAC / 25th in NCAA II) and his 15 pass break-ups. His passes defended tally is the second most in a TU single-season, while his five interceptions are tied for second as well.  He returned those five picks for 122 yards which are second in school history.

In his home finale against Mars Hill, Alford established a new single-game record with his seven passes defended including two interceptions, which are tied for a TU record and becomes the 24th Pioneer to achieve the feat.  For his efforts, he was named the SAC Defensive Player of the Week for a second time this season and was also tabbed the College Defensive Player of the Week by the Tennessee Sportswriters Association. 

Alford finished fourth on the team with his 45 tackles, including three for loss and forced a fumble.  He was also Tusculum's punt returner and averaged 14.22 yards per return, which is second in the conference and 11th in the country. His 27 punt returns and 384 punt return yards were the second most in school history, while his punt return average was fifth-best by a Pioneer.

His 40 career passes defended are a new Tusculum record, while his 195 career interception return yards also a new TU-best.  His 10 career interceptions are third in the school record book while his 50 career punt returns and 547 punt return yards are both the third-most in school history. Alford finished his career with a 10.94 punt return average, which is the fourth-best in TU history.

Ponder earns All-SAC second team honors at wide receiver for the Pioneers. The 6-0, 190-pound sophomore from Moultrie, Georgia led the Pioneers with 35 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns.  His receiving yardage and TD catch total are both sixth in the league while his 3.9 receptions per game average is third in the SAC.  He recorded two games with 100-plus receiving yards including a career-high 131 yards against eighth-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne. He preceded that with 105 yards on six catches and two touchdowns against No. 16 Wingate.

Cauthen, a 6-1, 220-pound sophomore linebacker from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, led the Pioneers with his 15 tackles for loss (-34 yds), which are tied for the 10th-most in a TU single-season.  His 75 total tackles were second on the team while his 1.2 tackles per game average are fifth in the conference. 

Cauthen's best game of the season in TU's 23-20 win over UNC Pembroke as he posted eight tackles including three for loss and returned an interception for a 31-yard touchdown. In the UNCP game, he also made a fourth-down stop in the final minute to preserve the win and earned SAC Defensive Player of the Week laurels.

He recorded back-to-back double-digit tackle performances with 13 stops against Lenoir-Rhyne and 10 hits versus Wingate.  For the season, he posted two interceptions, forced two fumbles and recorded a safety, that coming in a 32-14 home win over Catawba.  He was also named to the NCAA Division II Academic All-District football team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Goodman repeats as an All-Conference pick after garnering Football Gazette All-Region third team and All-SAC first team plaudits in 2018.  The 5-11, 190-pound senior from Jacksonville, Florida, finished third on the roster with 47 tackles including three hits for loss, one interception and three passes defended.  In his 10 games this season, he posted season-highs with seven tackles apiece against Delta State and Lenoir-Rhyne. He also tallied six stops each in wins over UVa-Wise and UNC Pembroke.

Goodman wraps up an outstanding Tusculum career with 193 tackles, including 14 for loss (29 yds.) and three sacks. He also finished with 19 career passes defended including three interceptions with two fumbles forced and two fumble recoveries.

Tusculum redshirt freshman Thurlow Wilkins was the SAC Statistical Champion for kickoff returns which his TU single-season record average of 32.63 yards per return which is currently fifth in the country. He also set a new TU single-game record with his 191 kickoff return yards at Newberry, including a 93-yarder for a touchdown, which is the seventh-longest return in school history. For his efforts, he was named the SAC Special Teams Player of the Week.

For the season, Wilkins (Avon Park, Fla.) accounted for four returns of four returns of 45 yards or longer.

Wilkins was TU's second-leading rusher averaging 50.9 yards per game as he posted 458 rushing yards on 81 carries with three touchdowns.  He ran for a 63-yard touchdown against Catawba and posted a 59-yard scoring run a week earlier against UNC Pembroke.

Redshirt freshman placekicker Eli Shepherd was the SAC Statistical Champion for field goal percentage as he went 8-of-10 (.800).  Shepherd, a 6-0, 220-pound product from Greeneville, led the Pioneers in scoring with his 49 points as he went 25-of-27 on his extra point tries.  His 49 points is the 10th-most in a season by a TU kicker, while his eight made field goals are tied for eighth.

Shepherd was perfect on all five of his kicks in Tusculum's home win over UNC Pembroke. He went 3-for-3 in field goals and 2-of-2 on extra-points. He kicked a 45-yarder against UNCP, besting the 44-yarder he boomed in Tusculum's 38-10 road win at Limestone.  In the Pembroke game he finished with 11 points and earned SAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.  He followed that with 13 points against Catawba as he booted three field goals and went 3-of-3 on extra points.

After starting the season 1-5 following three losses to nationally-ranked teams, the Pioneers rebounded winning four of its last five contests to post a 5-6 overall record and tied for fourth place in the SAC with a 4-4 league worksheet. Tusculum's fourth place finish marks the fourth straight season TU has placed in the top half of the league standings, a first since joining the conference in 1998.

2019 All-South Atlantic Conference Football Team
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB – Grayson Willingham, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Antonio Wimbush, Carson-Newman
RB – Nijere Peoples, Wingate
RB – Domineke McNeill, Wingate
WR – Craig Rucker, Mars Hill
WR – Braxton Westfield, Carson-Newman
WR – Jalen Brooks, Wingate
OL – Andrew Strickland, Wingate
OL – Jason Poe, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Keveon Broadwater, Tusculum
OL – Connor Baroniounas, Wingate
OL – Phillip McDowell, Carson-Newman
TE – Drake Starks, Lenoir-Rhyne
PK – McLean Robertson-Wingate
LS – Dawson Campbell, Carson-Newman
RS – Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL – Jaquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Dan Louba, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Keito Jordon, Newberry
DL – Jordon Anderson, Wingate
LB – Robbie Wallace, Wingate
LB – Ivan Hogans, Tusculum
LB – Clayton Horn, Lenoir-Rhyne
LB – Rondrow Peebles, Carson-Newman
DB – Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Dee Alford, Tusculum
DB – Desmond Fairell, Carson-Newman
DB – Davion Washington, Wingate
P – Thomas Cook, Limestone

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB – Shaw Crocker, Wingate
QB - Derrick Evans, Carson-Newman
RB – Jaquay Mitchell, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Ameen Stevens, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Jerko'ya Patton, Limestone
WR – Deshun Kitchings, Newberry
WR – B.J. Muckelvene, Wingate
WR – Tory Ponder, Tusculum
OL – Jordan Seal, Carson-Newman
OL – Travis James, Mars Hill
OL – Tyler Anderson, Newberry
OL – Ronnie Clifton, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Cameron Thomason, Limestone
TE – Trevor Makarov, Carson-Newman
PK – Chase Allbaugh, Lenoir-Rhyne
LS – Travis Morgan, Newberry
RS – Demetrius Mann, UVa-Wise

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL – Amari Houston, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Cal Hanford, Wingate
DL – Montel Presely, Carson-Newman
DL – Kelvin Atkins, Limestone
LB – Austin Hicks, UVa-Wise
LB – Elijah Gilmore, Wingate
LB – Jeremiah Ferguson, Catawba
LB – Jackson Cauthen, Tusculum
DB – Eric Jackson, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Marcus Tarrer, UVa-Wise
DB – Chris Page, Catawba
DB – Malik Goodman, Tusculum
DB - Mannie Ogletree, Limestone
P - Nate Craft, Carson-Newman
P- Michael Owen-Lenoir-Rhyne

SAC Offensive Player of the Year: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill
SAC Defensive Player of the Year: Jaquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne
SAC Offensive Freshman of the Year: Troy Dendy, Carson-Newman
SAC Defensive Freshman of the Year: Dexter Fitzpatrick, Mars Hill
Jacobs Blocking Trophy: Jason Poe, Lenoir-Rhyne
SAC Coach of the Year: Drew Cronic, Lenoir-Rhyne

Statistical Champions
Rushing Yards Per Game: Antonio Wimbush, Carson-Newman (88.9)
Passing Yards Per Game: Jimmy Urzua, Mars Hill (210.1)
Total Offense Per Game: Jimmy Urzua, Mars Hill (210.9)
Receptions Per Game: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (8.8)
Receiving Yards Per Game: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (120.5)
All-Purpose Yards Per Game: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (149.36)
Passing Efficiency Rating: Grayson Willingham, Lenoir-Rhyne (183.7)
Punt Return Avg.: Demetrius Mann, UVa-Wise (20.9)
Kick Return Avg.: Thurlow Wilkins, Tusculum (32.6)
Punting Avg.: Thomas Cook, Limestone (43.1)
Scoring Average (TDs): Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (9.8)
Scoring Average (K): McLean Robertson, Wingate (8.2)
Field Goals Per Game: McLean Robertson, Wingate (1.36)
Field Goal Percentage: Eli Shepherd, Tusculum (.800)
Tackles Per Game: Marcus Tarrer, UVa-Wise (8.8)
Sacks Per Game: Jarquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne (1.05)
Tackles for Loss Per Game: Jarquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne (1.7)
Interceptions Per Game: Desmond Fairell, Carson-Newman (0.70)
Team Scoring Offense: Lenoir-Rhyne (42.3)
Team Scoring Defense: Lenoir-Rhyne (15.7)
Team Passing Offense: Mars Hill (306.1)
Team Passing Defense: Newberry (145.4)
Team Rushing Offense: Carson-Newman (316.9)
Team Rushing Defense: Lenoir-Rhyne (77.1)
Team Total Offense: Lenoir-Rhyne (442)
Team Total Defense: Carson-Newman (287.9)

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