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Permalink 12/18/08 , FCS News

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Sports Network Announces Their FCS Award Winners

Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards was named the 22nd winner of the Walter Payton Award, Eastern Washington defensive end Greg Peach was named the 14th winner of the Buck Buchanan Award, and James Madison coach Mickey Matthews was named the 22nd winner of the Eddie Robinson Award.

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[CSN coverage of the Sports Network Awards show: See a photo gallery here, Listen here.]

Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) - Thursday night at The Sports Network’s Football Championship Subdivision Awards Banquet, held at the Chattanooga Marriott on the eve of the NCAA Division I Football Championship title game the awards were announced.

The Payton Award, named for the legendary Jackson State and Chicago Bears running back, is presented annually to the top player in FCS.

“It’s a great accomplishment and a great feeling,” Edwards said. “I always congratulate my team, because without them, I wouldn’t (even) be a finalist.”

The 6-foot-tall, 184-pound junior signal-caller rushed for 941 yards and 11 touchdowns, while completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. He ranked second nationally in passing efficiency, seventh in total offense (296 yards per game, 3,843 total yards) and 11th in passing yards.

Edwards, one of the team captains for the Mountaineers, saved his best games for the brightest spotlight. Facing South Carolina State in the first round of this year’s playoffs, Edwards completed 29-of-41 passes for a school-record 433 yards and four touchdowns, breaking predecessor Richie Williams’ mark of 413 in 2004 in a 37-21 win.

In a nationally televised game against Wofford for first place in the Southern Conference earlier in the year, Edwards was 17-of-19 passing for 367 yards and five touchdowns and added 73 yards and one TD rushing on just 11 carries. Edwards played only one series of the fourth quarter in that game, as he led the Mountaineers to a 70-24 victory.

“He’s made a huge difference in our football program from the beginning,” Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said. “He’s been a great example on the field and in the classroom. Our team really rallies around him.”

Edwards finished first in one of the most lopsided Payton Award races in history with 53 first-place votes and 398 points. James Madison quarterback Rodney Landers was second with 17 first-place votes and 290 points, with Western Illinois running back Herb Donaldson placing third with 209 points.

The Walter Payton Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network and previous winners of the honor include current NFL players such as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (2002, Eastern Illinois) and Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (2001, Villanova), and former Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair (1994, Alcorn State).

2008 Walter Payton Award Voting

NAME (SCHOOL) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
1. Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State 53 21 12 5 3 398
2. Rodney Landers, James Madison 17 27 14 11 5 290
3. Herb Donaldson, Western Illinois 14 9 22 10 8 209
4. Ramses Barden Cal Poly 4 8 11 15 12 127
5. Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas 1 7 6 9 18 89
6. Cameron Higgins, Weber State 3 8 3 7 9 79
7. John Matthews, San Diego 2 6 6 6 4 70
8. Rashad Jennings, Liberty 1 3 5 9 9 59
9. Dominic Randolph, Holy Cross 2 2 7 1 4 47
10. Larry Warner, Southern Illinois 1 4 1 3 7 37
11. Chris Pizzotti, Harvard 1 2 4 3 2 33
12. William Ford, South Carolina State 1 3 0 4 4 29
13. Andre Roberts, The Citadel 2 0 0 6 4 26
14. Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State 0 0 5 2 4 23
15. Terrell Hudgins, Elon 0 0 4 2 4 20
16. David Sinisi, Monmouth 0 1 1 1 4 13
17. *Jonathan Dally, Cal Poly 0 1 1 0 0 7
18. *Josh Vaughan, Richmond 0 1 0 1 0 6
* - Write-In Votes.

The Buchanan Award, named for the legendary Grambling and Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle, is presented annually to the top defensive player in FCS.

“Coming in as a freshman, you see the award and you think about it,” said Peach. “But I never thought I would have won it. To even be a top-16 guy on the Buchanan watch list was unbelievable for me.”

Peach led the FCS in sacks (1.64 per game, 18 total for 103 yards in losses) and tackles for loss (2.05 per game, 22.5 total, 133 yards) in 2008, recording six multi-sack games and 72 tackles along the way. The campaign included an eye-opening four-sack effort against perennial FCS stalwart Montana on Oct. 11.

Peach was just one sack away from the Big Sky Conference single-season record, owned by Montana’s Andy Petak with 19, and finished fifth-best in FCS history. He is second in the Big Sky and fourth in FCS for career sacks with 35.5, finishing just three sacks behind Jared Allen of Idaho State, the 2003 Buchanan Award winner and now an NFL standout. Peach also owns school standards for single-season and career sacks, as well as tackles for loss marks for a season and a career.

The 6-2, 250-pound defensive lineman from Vancouver, WA ended his season with a flourish in the Eagles’ 33-26 victory over Big Sky co-champion and No. 8- ranked Weber State - a win that cost the Wildcats a perfect conference record, an outright league title and a probable seed in the NCAA playoffs.

With 1:02 remaining and WSU running back Trevyn Smith heading towards an apparent game-tying touchdown, Peach recovered a fumble on his final college play to seal his team’s victory and give EWU a winning season.

Peach won by the largest margin in Buchanan Award history, earning 39 first- place votes and 313 points to finish 107 points ahead of runner-up Jovan Belcher, a defensive end from Maine. Belcher had 15 first-place votes and 206 points, while Appalachian State safety Mark LeGree placed third with 183 points.

The Buck Buchanan Award was established in 1995 by The Sports Network. Past winners of the honor include current NFL standouts such as Allen (2003, Idaho State) of the Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Rashean Mathis (2002, Bethune-Cookman), along with former Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl linebacker Dexter Coakley (1995-96, Appalachian State).

2008 Buck Buchanan Award Voting
NAME (SCHOOL) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
1. Greg Peach, Eastern Washington 39 17 11 6 5 313
2. Jovan Belcher, Maine 15 23 7 7 4 206
3. Mark LeGree, Appalachian State 7 9 30 11 0 183
4. Jason Williams, Western Illinois 11 7 9 17 20 164
5. Nathan Williams, Murray State 11 11 5 7 12 140
6. Marcus Haywood, James Madison 7 7 4 9 12 105
7. Larry Hart, Central Arkansas 0 9 6 10 5 79
8. Zach East, Prairie View 4 5 3 1 1 52
9. Lardarius Webb, Nicholls State 1 3 6 6 3 50
10. Andy Schantz, Portland State 2 0 4 6 9 43
11. Bobby Abare, Yale 1 3 3 3 8 40
12. Greg Miller, Villanova 1 2 4 3 7 38
13. Colt Anderson, Montana 3 0 1 5 5 33
14. K.J. Gerard, Northern Arizona 0 3 3 1 3 26
15. Andy Romans, Lafayette 0 1 2 5 3 23
16. John Faletoese, UC Davis 0 1 2 3 5 21
17. *Sam Daniels, James Madison 0 1 0 0 0 4
18. *Marcellus Speaks, Jackson State 0 0 1 0 0 3
18. *Adrian Tracy, William & Mary 0 0 1 0 0 3
20. *Matt Curtis, Harvard 0 0 0 1 0 2
20. *Brandon Gathof, Eastern Kentucky 0 0 0 1 0 2
* - Write-in Votes.

Matthews is the first two-time winner of the Robinson Award, which is presented annually to the top coach in FCS. Matthews also won the Robinson Award in 1999, his first season at James Madison.

“Coaching is all I ever wanted to do,” said Matthews. “Everyone, growing up in the south, knows who Eddie Robinson is. To be linked to that name is truly an honor and it is a humbling experience.”

Matthews’ JMU squad finished 10-1 in the regular season and was ranked No. 1 for the final eight weeks of the regular season in the Sports Network FCS top-25 poll. The Dukes also won the championship of the Colonial Athletic Association and were seeded No. 1 in the NCAA playoffs. It marked the best regular-season record in school history.

James Madison beat nine teams ranked at one point in the TSN poll on its way to the NCAA semifinals, including two No. 1 teams, Appalachian State and Richmond. The Dukes suffered their first loss since the opening game of the season, a 35-27 setback to Montana on Dec. 12, finishing the 2008 campaign at 12-2.

In 10 years at the helm of JMU, Matthews has become the winningest coach in school history, with a record of 76-46. He led the Dukes to the 2004 national championship with a 13-2 mark and was also the defensive architect of the great Jim Donnan-coached Marshall teams that were national finalists in 1991-93 and 1995, and won the 1992 national championship.

Matthews received 26 first-place votes out of the 102 ballots that were cast by a panel of sports information directors and selected media who regularly cover FCS games. He edged Rich Ellerson of Cal Poly by 45 points, with Ron McBride of Weber State finishing third.

The Sports Network established the Eddie Robinson Award in 1987. Past recipients of this prestigious honor include current FCS coaches, Jerry Moore of Appalachian State, Northern Iowa skipper Mark Farley, New Hampshire’s Sean McDonnell, Villanova’s Andy Talley, Mike Ayers of Wofford and Elon’s Pete Lembo.

2008 EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD VOTING
NAME (SCHOOL) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
Mickey Matthews, James Madison 26 12 12 5 5 229
Rich Ellerson, Cal Poly 16 13 8 7 4 174
Ron McBride, Weber State 13 17 5 5 12 170
Jerry Moore, Appalachian State 11 9 17 7 4 160
Henry Frazier, Prairie View 10 7 13 11 4 143
Andy Talley, Villanova 4 4 4 11 13 83
Clint Conque, Central Arkansas 2 4 5 9 7 70
Dale Lennon, Southern Illinois 3 4 5 7 4 64
Joe Taylor, Florida A&M 4 6 3 3 2 61
Jack Cosgrove, Maine 1 5 8 1 4 55
Buddy Pough, South Carolina State 3 2 4 4 4 47
Mark Farley, Northern Iowa 2 2 4 5 4 44
Kerwin Bell, Jacksonville 2 2 3 6 3 42
Bobby Hauck, Montana 1 1 4 7 3 38
Danny Rocco, Liberty 1 0 2 7 6 31
Dick Biddle, Colgate 0 3 1 4 6 29
Mike Ayers, Wofford 2 3 0 1 2 26
Dean Hood, Eastern Kentucky 1 2 1 1 3 21
Phil Estes, Brown 0 3 2 0 2 20
Bob Ford, Albany 0 2 0 1 8 18
*Rod Broadway, Grambling 0 0 1 0 0 3
*Sean McDonnell, New Hampshire 0 0 0 0 2 2
* - Write-In Votes.