MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week
Matt McDonald, Bowling Green, QB
Senior, Newport Beach, Calif. (Mission Viejo)
McDonald rushed for two touchdowns, accounting for all of BGSU’s scores in the upset of Minnesota. The BGSU win halted Minnesota’s 21-game winning streak against non-conference teams, which was the longest in the nation heading into the week. McDonald navigated the BGSU offense against the nation’s No. 14 defense, which has only allowed 255 yards of total offense over the last 120 minutes of football. His first touchdown of the game snapped Minnesota’s streak of 87:24 of game time without allowing points. Tailing in the late in third quarter, 10-7, led BGSU on an 8-play, 65-yard drive to take the lead for good. His rush on a 4th and 1 opportunity from the BG 43 went for 18 yards. Four plays later BG was in the end zone and on top for good. The 18-yard rush was BG’s longest of the game. Lost 32 yards rushing via sacks.
MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week
Brock Horne, Bowling Green, LB
Sophomore, Romeo, Mich. (Romeo)
Horne was a key cog in helping Bowling Green upset Minnesota and holding the Gophers to 241 yards of total offense, while also forcing six three-and-outs. The BGSU win halted Minnesota’s 21-game winning streak against non-conference teams, which was the longest in the nation heading into the week. The 241 yards of total offense was the fewest yards Minnesota has gained at home since a 2017 meeting with Wisconsin. The 241 yards of total offense was the fewest yards Minnesota gained at home against a non-“”Power 5″” school since 2009 against South Dakota State. Horne led BGSU with nine tackles, 1.0 sack and 1 forced fumble. His sack pushed Minnesota out of field goal range early in the game, forcing the Gophers to punt. Forced a fumble with the ball in BGSU territory. The Falcons covered up the ball and stopped another Minnesota drive.
MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week
Matt Naranjo, Bowling Green, P
Senior, Skokie, Ill. (Niles North)
Naranjo Helped flip the field multiple times in BGSU’s upset at Minnesota. The win snapped Minnesota’s 21-game winning streak against non-conference teams. Averaged 44.1 yards per punt, had two pinned inside the 20-yard line and set a Huntington Bank Stadium record with a 77-yard punt against the Gophers
MAC West Division Co-Offensive Players of the Week
Rocky Lombardi, NIU, Quarterback
Jr.-R, Clive, Iowa (Valley)
NIU quarterback Rocky Lombardi accounted for 401 yards of total offense with a season high 282 yards on 17-of-24 passing with a touchdown and 119 yards rushing on just 10 carries with three rushing touchdowns. Lombardi ran for touchdowns of 7, 64 and 18 yards to account for the first rushing TDs in his career, including his years at Michigan State prior to coming to NIU. Lombardi had a season-long 66-yard completion to Cole Tucker in the game. He completed 12-of-15 passes for 173 yards in the first half.
Ben Bryant, Eastern Michigan, Quarterback
Senior, La Grange, Ill. (Lyons Twp.) (Cincinnati)
Senior quarterback Ben Bryant threw for a career-high three touchdowns against Texas State, Sept. 25 as he completed 20-of-33 pass attempts en route to 228 yards through the air. Along with a rushing touchdown, the first-year Eagle accounted for four touchdowns in Eastern’s historic, 59-21 win over Texas State. His performance marked the 42nd time in program history that an EMU QB has thrown for three scores. The Eagles’ 38-point margin of victory was the largest against a non-conference FBS program under Chris Creighton. Furthermore, the 59-21 triumph ranks as the 37th-largest margin of victory since the program began in 1891. Overall, EMU’s 59 points were the most scored against a non-conference FBS foe. The Charlie Batch-lead Eagles of 1995 held the previous standard of 51 in a 45-point victory over UNLV, Sept. 16, 1995. Batch is a MAC Hall of Famer. Furthermore, Bryant led EMU to 33 first downs against Texas State, which ranks third in the EMU record books for a single game. The last time EMU posted 30-or-more first downs was Nov. 22, 2014, at Ball State.
MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week
Ali Fayad, Western Michigan, DL
Senior, Dearborn, Mich. (Dearborn)
A crucial part of a defensive effort that allowed just three points to visiting San Jose State. Fayad had two sacks, three tackles for a loss, five total tackles, and three QB hurries. He also forced a fumble that led to a WMU score in the 2nd quarter.
MAC West Division Special Teams Player of the Week
Chad Ryland, Eastern Michigan, Kicker
Junior, Lebanon, Pa. (Cedar Crest)
Ryland put eight extra points through the uprights against Texas State, Sept. 25. Ryland’s eight PAT makes are tied for the most in a single game in program history. The last player to hit the mark was Paulie Fricano, who did it versus Ball State, Nov. 15, 2017. Additionally, with his eighth make of the day, Ryland passed Justin Ventura (1995-98) for the all-time program record in point-after makes (114). Additionally, Ryland’s eight PAT makes are the most in a single game in the conference this year. Ryland was a key part of the Eagles’ overall effort which secured the team a 3-1 start to the 2021 season, an accomplishment that has been recorded just 43 times in the 130-year history of the program and has not happened since 1995.
MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week