Tennessee Tech junior Ladarius Vanlier accounted for 200 all-purpose yards against Indiana State Saturday, including a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown, and Sunday he was voted the Ohio Valley Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.
The 5-foot-8 junior took the punt return midway through the third quarter to cut the Sycamore lead in half at 28-14. He also returned four kickoffs for a total of 112 yards (with a long of 46), had nine rushing yards and five receiving yards. Vanlier currently ranks fifth nationally in punt returns (20.4 yards/return), 14th nationally in kickoff returns (26.8 yards/return) and 15th nationally in all-purpose yards (178.5 yards/game).
It was his second career 200-yard all-purpose game.
IN addition to Vanlier, the league named Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins as the Offensive Player of the Week, Eastern Kentucky defensive back Stanley Abasanon the Defensive Player of the Week, and Devaumte Sigler, a defensive tackle for JSU, as the Newcomer of the Week.
Jenkins scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime as No. 9 Jacksonville State went on the road to defeat No. 13 Chattanooga 26-23. On the third play of overtime Jenkins rushed for 13 yards to score the winning touchdown. He finished the game with eight rushes for 82 yards (10.2 ypc) and that touchdown while also completing 15-of-21 passes for 122 yards. He led a Gamecock offense that finished with 409 yards of total offense as Jax State won for the sixth time in its last eight tries versus nationally-ranked opponents.
Absanon became the first Eastern Kentucky player to have two interceptions in the same game in almost two years as he helped the Colonels to a victory over Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe Miami (Ohio). It was the first victory over a FBS opponent for EKU since 1985, snapping an 18-game losing streak to higher division foes. The junior made a jarring hit in the end zone on a 3rd-and-4 play in the third quarter that prevented the RedHawks from scoring a touchdown (MU had to settle for a field goal). Three minutes later Absanon picked off his first pass of the day and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 10 with 3:53 to play in the third quarter. He then sealed the game by making an interception at midfield with less than one minute to play in the game. Absanon finished the game with six tackles and three pass breakups to go along with his two interceptions. He currently ranks second nationally in interceptions.
Sigler, a transfer from Auburn, had five tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss, a sack and forced a fumble as No. 9 Jacksonville State went on the road to top No. 13 Chattanooga 26-23 in overtime. He helped anchor a Gamecock defense that held the high-powered UTC attack to just 111 yards of total offense on the night (-5 yards in the first half) and did not allow a first down until 11 minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Golden Eagles (1-1) have an open date on the schedule this weekend, and return to action on Saturday, Sept. 20, with their OVC opener at Tennessee State.