Eastern Kentucky University linebacker Gavin Bryant was chosen as the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week and Matthew Jackson was selected as the OVC Co-Specialist of the Week on Sunday after the two played significant roles in the Colonels’ 35-34 comeback win at Tennessee-Martin.
Bryant was also chosen as the Madness Ohio Valley Defensive Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
The Colonels (3-3, 2-1 OVC) host Murray State (3-3, 3-0 OVC) for Homecoming on Saturday. Kickoff at Roy Kidd Stadium is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.
In a game decided by one point, every play is critical and Bryant made several. The 6-foot-1, 232-pound redshirt senior from Jackson, Alabama finished with a game-best 11 tackles and a sack to go along with a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown. His score gave Eastern a 21-7 lead late in the first quarter. He also had a pair of quarterback hurries.
Bryant helped the EKU defense limit UT Martin to three first downs and 43 yards of offense in the second half. He is the third different Eastern Kentucky linebacker to be chosen as the OVC Defensive Player of the Week this season, joining teammates Leodis Moore III (Sept. 9) and Steven Crowder (Sept. 16).
With Eastern trailing by six late in the third quarter, Jackson raced down field on a short, high kickoff along the left sideline and recovered the ball at the UTM 23 yard line before any Skyhawk could field the kick. The excellent field position set up what proved to be the winning touchdown. Daryl McCleskey took it to the house from 12 yards out to tie the game, 34-34. The extra-point put the visitors in front by one with 13:01 left in the game.
Jackson is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound redshirt freshman from Nashville, Tennessee.
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