By Alan Grosbach, Associate Director of Athletics Communications and Media
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Eric Dunten of Saint Francis (Ind.), Gavin Gardner of Saint Francis and Bennett Gibson of Montana Western were named the NAIA Football National Players of the Week, the national office announced Monday. The trio was chosen for their performances during the week of October 2 – October 8 and were selected out of a pool of conference award winners.
Defensive Player of the Week
Eric Dunten, Saint Francis (Ind.)
Jr., LB, Fort Wayne, Ind.
• Logged a career-high 12 solo tackles to lead top-ranked Saint Francis (Ind.) to a 35-18 victory over then-No. 20 Concordia (Mich.) in the NAIA Football Game of the Week.
• Weekly stats:
o 17 total tackles (12 solo)
o Three sacks
o 3.5 tackles for loss
Special Teams Player of the Week
Gavin Gardner, Saint Francis
Fr., K, Van Wert, Ohio
• The redshirt freshman kicker tied a Saint Francis program record for field goals made in a game to help the Cougars to a 35-18 win over then-No. 20 Concordia (Mich.) in the NAIA Football Game of the Week
• Weekly stats:
o Three-for-three on field goals
o Long of 28 yards
o Two-for-two on PATs
Offensive Player of the Week
Bennett Gibson, Montana Western
Sr., QB, Mount Vernon, Wash.
• Threw for a career-best 365 yards and scored five touchdowns to lead Montana Western to a 42-35 upset victory over then-No. 5 Montana Tech.
• Weekly stats:
o Completed 22-of-38 passes (57.9 percent)
o 365 passing yards
o Five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing)
For more information on NAIA football, click here.
For a complete listing of all the national statistical leaders, click here.
Offensive Nominees: Derek Bellard, Point (Ga.); Zayne Kyser, Evangel (Mo.); Clayton Nicholas, Faulkner (Ala.); Jacob Giles, Dakota State (S.D.); Ryan Esslinger, Arizona Christian; Brandon Ruffin, St. Francis (Ill.); Justin Green, Saint Francis (Ind.); Hunter Brown, Campbellsville (Ky.); Bubba Jenkins, Morningside (Iowa); Tae Turner, Saint Mary (Kan.).
Defensive Nominees: Dikembe Billingslea, Point (Ga.); Andres Moeller, Evangel (Mo.); Josh Carter, Arizona Christian; Malik Thurman, St. Francis (Ill.); Caden McDonald, Morningside (Iowa); Conlan Smith, Montana Western; Tyler Tate, Cumberland (Tenn.); Blade Denmark, Southeastern (Fla.); Pierce Williams, Kansas Wesleyan; Elijah Staton, Dickinson State (N.D.).
Special Teams Nominees: Michael Watkins, Faulkner (Ala.); Derek Brush, Arizona Christian; Lexus Jackson, St. Francis (Ill.); Bradley Bates, Campbellsville (Ky.); Tanner Griffith, Bluefield (Va.); Mark Kharchenko, Montana Western; Mario Esparza, Southwestern (Kan.); Alex Stogdill, Hastings (Neb.); Jaiden Machuca, Presentation (S.D.).
2017 Football Composite Award Winners (Offensive, Defensive, Special Teams)
Week 1 (Sept. 11): Quinn McQueary, Montana Tech; Dominic Swillum, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.); Griff Amies, Rocky Mountain (Mont.).
Week 2 (Sept. 18): Nick Ferrer, Saint Francis (Ind.); Romon Morris, Pikeville (Ky.); AJ Allen, Doane (Neb.)
Week 3 (Sept. 25): Quinn McQueary, Montana Tech; Cole Wiseman, Doane (Neb.); Exavier Edwards, Midland (Neb.)
Week 4 (Oct. 2): Hilton Joseph, Waldorf (Iowa); Caden McDonald, Morningside (Iowa); Daniel Martinez, Wayland Baptist (Texas)
Week 5 (Oct. 9): Bennett Gibson, Montana Western; Eric Dunten, Saint Francis (Ind.); Gavin Gardner, Saint Francis (Ind.)