DALLAS – After throwing for 408 yards and totaling four touchdowns in a win over No. 25 Miami (Fla.) last week, Middle Tennessee QB Chase Cunningham was voted C-USA Offensive Player of the Week. Fellow Blue Raider, DL Zaylin Wood,took home Defensive Player of the Week honors following a monster performance with a pair of sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss, an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery in the 45-31 win at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. UTEP PR Marcus Bellon was named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week after his 47-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win over Boise State on Friday. The 2022 C-USA Players of the Week awards are presented by Blenders Eyewear and are voted on by a panel of the league’s media.
Cunningham keyed Middle Tennessee’s first-ever win over a ranked opponent by throwing for a career-high 408 yards on just 16 completions (25.5 yards a completion). It went down as sixth-most passing yards in a game at MTSU and just the eighth 400-yard game in school history. Cunningham had completions of 98, 89, 71 and 69 yards, with the 98-yarder matching the longest in program history. Cunningham’s yards per completion mark was 25.5 and the NCAA single game record is 22.9, but the minimum cutoff is 22 completions, so Cunningham fell just short of an NCAA record. Cunningham also ran for an additional 29 yards and another touchdown in the win.
Wood, who was also named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week, was instrumental in leading a defense that wreaked havoc on the Miami Hurricanes all day and held them to just 60 rushing yards. Wood had a career-best two sacks to go with 2.0 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception he batted in the air, grabbed, and returned 15 yards for a touchdown in the opening quarter. It was his second career interception, but his first-ever defensive touchdown (caught a pass for a TD on offense in 2021).
Bellon changed the momentum of the game when he returned a punt 47 yards to pay dirt for a touchdown, giving UTEP a 10-point lead in the third quarter during the Miners’ 27-10 upset victory against Boise State on Friday night. For Bellon, it was his first career touchdown for the Miners, while it was UTEP’s first punt return for a touchdown since Sept. 19, 2015 at NM State. Overall, Bellon tallied two returns for 57 yards.
Offensive Player of the Week
A29 – QB Austin Aune, North Texas
S5 – QB Frank Harris, UTSA
S12 – QB Frank Harris, UTSA
S19 – RB DeWayne McBride, UAB
S26 – QB Chase Cunningham, Middle Tennessee
Defensive Player of the Week
A29 – DB Justin McKithen, Florida Atlantic
S5 – DB Kaleb Oliver, WKU
S12 – DL Quindarius Dunnigan, Middle Tennessee
S19 – LB Noah Wilder, UAB
S26 – DL Zaylin Wood, Middle Tennessee
Special Teams Player of the Week
A29 – K Morgan Suarez, Florida Atlantic
S5 – K Jared Sackett, UTSA
S12 – K Gavin Baechle, UTEP
S19 – KR Kaylon Horton, North Texas
S26 – PR Marcus Bellon, UTEP