Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior running back Detrez Newsome was today named the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week following his performance in WCU's 31-19 road victory over the defending conference champion, The Citadel, last Saturday in Charleston. Newsome rushed for a game-high 197 yards and a touchdown as the Catamounts scored their seventh victory of the season.
The weekly award from the conference office is the sixth of Newsome's career -- second this season -- that includes four offensive awards and both special teams and freshman weekly plaudits once. It's also the eighth weekly honor by a Catamount this season, fourth by an offensive player.
Weekly award selections are made by the league office from nominations submitted by the media relations office of each conference school.
Newsome was additionally tabbed an honorable mention for the STATS FCS national offensive honors, while also being dubbed the SoCon's top offensive player this week by both College Sports Madness (collegesportsmadness.com) and the staff of Southern Pigskin (southernpigskin.com) on Sunday. Junior defensive back Marvin Tillman, who had eight tackles and a pair of interceptions in last Saturday's win, was named the SoCon's top defensive player by Southern Pigskin.
Newsome's 197 yards on the ground included a game-changing, 81-yard touchdown rush in the third quarter. After The Citadel tied the game at 17 out of the halftime locker room, Newsome responded with a one-play drive, rumbling the 81 yards from scrimmage to push WCU ahead for good, 24-17. Center Kaleb Spry and the offensive line opened up a crease that Newsome exploited for his fourth scoring run of 75-or-more yards this season.
Saturday represented Newsome's second, 100-yard rushing performance since returning from injury -- and his fourth this season to give him 15 career 100-yard rushing games that ties him with former tailbacks Otis McIntosh (1968-71) and Brad Hoover (1996-99) for the second-most such performances in program history. Perhaps most impressively was Newsome's success against the touted Bulldog defense, which entered the game first in the SoCon -- 19th nationally -- against the run in allowing just 106.9 rushing yards per game to the opposition. WCU finished with an opponent season-high of 253 rushing yards in the win.
Newsome ranks 10th in all of NCAA FCS football in total rushing yards with 933 despite having at least one fewer game than each of the 10 players ahead of him. His 180.4 yard average of total offense per game would lead NCAA FCS if he met the minimum number of games played, while his seasonal rushing average of 133.3 yards per game would lead the Southern Conference and rank second nationally. Newsome's eight rushing TDs rank him tied for 20th nationally. All told, Newsome has 36 career rushing touchdowns to move him into sole possession of second in program history, just one rushing score shy from tying Otis McIntosh (37, 1968-71) for the all-time program record. Newsome already owns WCU's all-time record for career TDs with 45 (36 rushing, 7 receiving, 2 kickoff returns).
With 933 seasonal rushing yards, he is just 67 yards shy of becoming the first Catamount running back to compile three, 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Western Carolina (7-3, 5-2 SoCon) returns home this Saturday for its final regular season home game, hosting the Mercer Bears (4-5, 3-4 SoCon) at E.J. Whitmire Stadium Bob Waters Field as the 21 senior members of the Catamount football team will be honored in a special pregame ceremony. WCU will also recognize all of the senior members of the WCU Dance Team, the Catamount cheerleaders, and the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band, with the latter following the band's halftime performance. In addition, WCU will recognize its newest inductee into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame, former Catamount football player and coach, Don Powers, during the first quarter break.
Saturday's game is also "Military Appreciation Day" with former and active members of the military receiving free admission in addition to a $15 ticket for their families, with the same deal extended to all first-responders including active and retired police, fire, and emergency services personnel. WCU Faculty & Staff will also have the option of receiving a free ticket with their valid WCU employee ID.
Tickets for Saturday's regular season home finale are on sale online at CatamountSports.com, as well as weekdays through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Ramsey Center and by phone at (828) 227-2401. Kickoff for the home finale is scheduled for 2:00 pm.