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2 Penguins named Missouri Valley Football Conference players of the week

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This week's Missouri Valley Football Conference players of the week are QB Kurt Hess of Youngstown State; SS Donald D'Alesio of Youngstown State; P Ben LeCompte of North Dakota State; and RB J.C. Baker of Western Illinois. Each was instrumental in his team's victory on Saturday.

OFFENSE

QB Kurt Hess, Youngstown State

6-3, 235, Sr., Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne High

Hess engineered the program's best fourth-quarter comeback since 2000 in a 28-27 win at Southern Illinois. The Penguins trailed 27-14 in the fourth, but Hess threw two touchdown passes in the final 10 minutes. Trailing 27-14 he found Nate Adams for a 14-yard score with 9:30 remaining to get YSU within 27-21. With 1:50 remaining he found Carson Sharbaugh on fourth down from the one-yard line for the game winner. He also ran for a key first down on the final drive with the Guins facing a fourth-and-6 from the SIU 27-yard line. He completed 25-of-37 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns. He had five carries for 27 yards.

DEFENSE

SS Donald D'Alesio, Youngstown State

6-0, 195, Jr., Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney High

D'Alesio had a career-high 15 tackles in the Penguins' come-from-behind win at Southern Illinois. He also forced and recovered a fumble in the final minute that ended an SIU comeback bid. His previous high was 11 at Missouri State as a freshman in 2010. He had 10 solo tackles, also a career-high. The Guins righted the ship in the second half. YSU allowed 27 points and 332 total yards in the first half. In the second, SIU scored no points and had 120 yards of offense.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Ben LeCompte, North Dakota State

5-10, 200, So., Barrington (Ill.) High

Had seven punts for 310 yards and a 44.3 average…Placed three punts inside the 20 and had two touchbacks…Blasted a career-long 75-yard punt from his own 25 in the first quarter and added a 74-yarder from NDSU's 8-yard line at the end of the first quarter…Also handled four kickoffs with a 59.0 average including one touchback.

NEWCOMER

RB J.C. Baker, Western Illinois

5-8, 190, Jr., Yuma (Ariz.) Barstow High (Arizona CC)

Baker recorded his third 100-yard rushing game this season, totaling 104 yards on 13 attempts. He averaged 8.0 yards per attempt, and his 54-yard run was the longest by a Leatherneck in two years. Baker also caught a season-high five passes for 33 yards.

Notable Nominees:

OFFENSE

RB Shakir Bell, Indiana State -- Had a 25-carry, 201-yard performance on the road against Tennessee Tech. He had a long of 69 yards in the game and his six-yard touchdown run came mid-way through the third quarter. He led the Sycamores with six receptions for 68 yards and had a 31-yard touchdown reception.

RB Mikael Cooper-Falls, Missouri State -- Cooper-Falls carried 16 times for a game-high 95 yards, averaged 5.9 yards per carry and racked up 46 yards on the Bears' first scoring drive of the game. It was his top rushing performance since he tallied 105 ground yards in the Bears' 21-17 win at North Dakota State in 2009.

QB Kory Faulkner, Southern Illinois -- Faulkner threw for 348 yards and led the Salukis with 71 rushing yards. His 419 yards of total offense was the second-highest single-game total in school history. He accounted for 93 percent of Southern's total offense. He also matched a career high with four touchdown passes in the game.

QB Brock Jensen, North Dakota State -- Accounted for 170 yards of total offense including two rushing TDs in NDSU's 20-0 win at SDSU…Went 10 of 20 passing for 109 yards with one interception…Rushed 15 times for 61 yards…Team converted 9 of 17 third downs including runs by Jensen of 7, 11 and 14 yards.

QB Sawyer Kollmorgen, UNI -- Kollmorgen led the No. 5 UNI Panthers past No. 9 McNeese State, 41-6. Kollmorgen finished 16-27-0 with a season-high 288 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore also finished with his first rushing touchdown of the season and the second in his young career.

RB Nikko Watson, Western Illinois -- Watson nearly reached the 100-yard mark again in his career, totaling 96 yards on 22 attempts with a touchdown. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry.

DEFENSE

LB Jordan Gacke, UNI -- Jordan Gacke led the Panthers with 10 tackles including one for a loss of four yards. He also notched one QB hurry and was instrumental in helping the Panthers force the Cowboys to punt six times.

LB R.C. Kilgore, South Dakota State -- Recorded a career-high 17 tackles in a losing effort vs. NDSU. It marked the third straight game Kilgore registered double digits in tackles and set a career high in the process.

LB Kevin Kintzel, Western Illinois -- Kintzel recorded his second touchdown this year when he scooped up a fumble on a muffed punt snap and scored against South Dakota. He recorded six tackles and a career-high 2.5 tackles for a loss. Kintzel also equaled his season total of two pass break-ups.

LB Grant Olson, North Dakota State -- Had eight tackles including a career-high 2.0 sacks…Both sacks were solo stops totaling 14 yards…Added another assisted tackle for loss…Leading tackler for a defensive unit that held SDSU to minus-32 yards rushing and has posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1987.

LB Bryan Presume, Southern Illinois -- Led SIU with 12 tackles, the second-highest of his career, against YSU. He made seven solo tackles and five assisted stops. He also had two tackles for loss and two QB hurries.

S Caleb Schaffitzel, Missouri State -- Registered a game-high 11 tackles, broke up a pass and snagged his sixth career interception to lift the Bears past No. 24 Illinois State. It was Schaffitzel's third double-figure tackle effort in the last four games and helped pace an MSU defense that held the Redbirds to just 214 total yards

DB Devin Taverna, South Dakota -- Taverna had a career-high and a game-high 13 tackles in South Dakota's 24-10 loss at Western Illinois Saturday in Macomb.

DE Connor Underwood, Indiana State -- enjoyed a breakout performance with a 10-tackle performance at Tennessee Tech. He was credited with four tackles for a loss of 36 yards and had three quarterback sacks for a loss of 32 yards against the Golden Eagles. Underwood had three solo and seven assists in the contest.

DE Colton Underwood, Illinois State --- Tallied nine tackles, including one tackle-for-loss, in Illinois State's 37-10 loss at Missouri State. He native added three solo tackles.

NEWCOMER

LB Auston Johnson, South Dakota -- Johnson had eight tackles, including one stop behind the line of scrimmage in South Dakota's 24-10 loss at Western Illinois Saturday in Macomb.

RB Phoenix Johnson, Missouri State -- Johnson tallied 54 yards on 10 carries (5.4 yards per carry) and posted his first career TD against Illinois State. His personal-best 12-yard scamper to pay dirt in the fourth quarter against the Redbirds put the Bears up by 21 points and proved to put the game out of reach.

P CJ Laros, Illinois State -- Finished with seven punts for 344 total yards, averaging 49.1 yards-per-punt. He tallied a career-long 63-yard punt in the first half, launched three balls more than 50 yards, dropped five punts inside the 20 yard line and had two punts that landed pinned the Bears inside the 10 yard line.

RB Martin Ruiz, Youngstown State -- Ruiz rushed for 87 yards on a career-high 20 carries at Southern Illinois. He had a key 19-yard gain on third-and-three during the Guins' final drive of the contest. He caught three passes for 50 yards, including a career-long 41-yarder.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P/PK Miles Bergner, South Dakota -- Bergner averaged 46 yards per punt, made a 27-yard field goal and threw a 29-yard pass on 4th-and-8 from his own 27-yard line at Western Illinois. He had one punt downed at the 5-yard line and had a long punt of 53 yards.

WR Julian Burton, Missouri State -- Averaged 17.0 yards on three punt returns and 23.5 yards on two kickoff returns en route to a game-high 125 all-purpose yards in the Bears' win over ISU. Burton, who had suffered a broken clavicle against the Redbirds twice in his career -- both on kick returns -- avenged those injuries with a career-long 41-yard punt return in the game and also had a team-high 3 pass receptions.

P/K Nathan Knuffman, Western Illinois -- Knuffman made the first field goal of his collegiate career, hitting a 28-yarder. He averaged 34.3 yards on his seven punts, but landed three inside the 20-yard line. On his five kickoffs, Knuffman launched two in the endzone for a touchback.

P CJ Laros, Illinois State -- see newcomer nominees above

P Nick Liste, Youngstown State -- Averaged 39.5 yards on four punts and had four touchbacks on five kickoffs. In the third-quarter he placed two punts inside the SIU 10-yard line which lowered his average for the contest. In the first half he had boots of 52, 46 yards. Liste has had 10 punts of 50-plus yards this year.

P Austin Pucylowski, Southern Illinois -- Pucylowski punted three times for an average of 43.0 yards per punt. He pinned one of his punts inside the 20 and did not have any touchbacks.

P Ethan Sawyer, South Dakota State -- Sawyer punted 10 times for an average of 43.7 yards -- with a season long 51-yarder -- against North Dakota State. Three of his punts landed inside the Bison 20-yard line.

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