Six named to first team, including Ryan Mathews
As the Bulldogs’ football team ends its season with an 8-4 record, 6-2 in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), 10 players were selected to the All-WAC first and second teams, an honor given to the most productive players in the conference.
With only three of those players in their senior year, head coach Pat Hill said the Bulldogs’ future is bright with most of the honored players returning for another season.
Here’s a look at the ’Dogs’ All-WAC performers 2009 seasons.
Matt Weir / The Collegian Online
Tailback Ryan Mathews
Mathews (inset photo) is the nation’s leading rusher, averaging 151.3 yards a game. In the ’Dogs’ game against Boise State, Mathews tied the third highest single-game record in school history when he ran for 234 yards and scored three touchdowns of 60 or more yards. Mathews also leads the team with 17 touchdowns.
Linebacker Ben Jacobs
For the second year in a row, Jacobs has been selected to the All-WAC team, but this is his first year on the first team. Jacobs led the ’Dogs with 92 tackles. In the game against Louisiana Tech, Jacobs tied an NCAA record after he forced three fumbles, one of which he recovered for a touchdown.
Defensive end Chris Carter
Despite playing the season with an injured hand, Carter was still one of the team’s leading defenders with 44 tackles, 12 of which were tackles for loss and four sacks.
“I’m also happy for Chris Carter,” Hill said in a news release. “He played the whole year with a club on his hand. And to make the All-WAC first-team playing one-handed is a great tribute to his ability and tenacity.”
Guard Andrew Jackson (first team) and tackle Kenny Wiggins (second team)
Without the great blocking of his linemen, Mathews’ record-breaking season would not have been possible.
Jackson and Wiggins are part of the offense line that allowed the Bulldogs to run for 2,779 yards this season, with an average of 231.6 rushing yards a game. They’re ability to create and protect the pocket also made it possible for quarterback Ryan Colburn to throw 2,333 yards this season.
Punter Robert Malone and kicker Kevin Goessling
Malone is the best punter in the WAC with an average of 45.1 yards per punt. Throughout the season, Malone totaled 14 punts of 50 yards or more in 12 games, including a 69-yarder in the game against San Jose State. Malone also contributed to the field-position battle with 16 pins inside the 20-yard line.
Goessling has made a name for himself after scoring his second career game-winning 35-yard field goal against Louisiana Tech. Goessling is perfect in extra points, 51 for 51, and is 15 for 16 on field goals.
“Both of those guys received too much criticism early in their careers, but they hung in there,” Hill said in a press release. “They are very strong, tough individuals. We knew they were going to be special players.”
Second team All-WAC players
Receiver Seyi Ajirototu
The senior receiver lead the Bulldogs in receiving yardage with 671 yards and seven touchdowns. His best performance of the season was against Utah State. In that game, Ajirotutu totaled 124 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown catch.
Safety Lorne Bell
First-time All-WAC honoree, Bell is second on the team with 60 tackles on the season. His best performance was against Illinois when he made 10 tackles, seven solos and three assists.
Safety Moses Harris
The senior is third on the team with 58 tackles. Harris’ best performance was against Boise State with nine tackles, four solos and five assists, and one tackle for a loss of three yards. Harris is also vying for the All-WAC academic award and will be honored as one of the nation’s top scholar-athletes. Harris is a contender for the Campbell Award, also known as the “Academic Heisman.”