Three Lions named First Team All-Conference, Adams named Defensive Freshman of the Year

Three Lions named First Team All-Conference, Adams named Defensive Freshman of the Year

ROCK HILL, S.C. ( - No. 16 Wingate running back Lawrence Pittman was tabbed the 2017 South Atlantic Conference Football Offensive Player of the Year, while Catawba linebacker Kyle Kitchens was tabbed the League's Defensive Player of the Year.  In addition, Jerko'ya Patton of Limestone was named the SAC Offensive Freshman of the Year and Earl Adams of Mars Hill was tabbed the Defensive Freshman of the Year.  Wingate offensive lineman Daniel Owens garnered the Jacobs Blocking Trophy and the Bulldogs' mentor Joe Reich picked up South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year honors, the League announced today.

Pittman, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., led the SAC with 1147 rushing yards. Pittman also led the league in rushing yards per game (114.7). He has seven 100+ yard games this year with 165 versus UNC Pembroke, 158 versus Mars Hill and 155 versus Catawba. His 2017 stat ledger includes 246 carries, 1147 yards, 11 rushing TDs, 4.7 yards per rush, 116.4 all-purpose yards per game and 114.7 total offense average per game.

Kitchens, a senior from Decatur, Ga., led the league with 13 sacks, which ranks among the top 10 in the nation, and 18 tackles for losses. He produced three sacks in two outings, coming against Mars Hill and St. Augustine's, where he grabbed SAC Player of the Week honors. The senior forced one fumble, recovered one and broke up five passes. He finished his Catawba career with a school-record 38.5 sacks.  With the honor, Kitchens becomes just the third player to win two SAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in League history.

Patton, a running back from Charlotte, N.C., posted 907 yards and eight touchdowns during his rookie season. Patton, who registered three 100-yard games during the 2017 campaign, averaged 4.5 yards per carry while ranking fourth in the SAC in yards per game with 90.7 and sixth in rushing touchdowns.

Adams, a freshman from Clayton, N.C., started in all 10 games at defensive tackle for the Lions as a true freshman. He recorded 46 tackles that placed him eighth on the team in that category. He led the team with 10.5 tackles-for-loss and was sixth in the SAC in tackles-for-loss.  He also tallied three sacks and ranked 21st in the SAC in assisted tackles.

Owens, a redshirt senior from Cherryville, N.C., has been a four-year starter who has started every game during his Wingate Bulldog career. In 2017, Owens has played 750 snaps through 10 games. He has graded out at 87 percent overall (combining mental, technical and effort grades) with a 98 percent effort grade. Owens has 35 knockdowns while allowing only one sack. The Bulldog O-Line helped Lawrence Pittman and Blake Hayes combine for 1877 yards during the regular season.

Reich led his Bulldog squad to their first South Atlantic Conference Championship since the 2010 season.  His team is currently ranked No. 16 in Division-II and ranked as high as No. 12 during the season.  Offensively, the Bulldogs top the SAC with 41 red-zone scores, while ranking No. 1 with 21.8 first downs.  On the defensive side of the ball, Wingate finished the regular season No. 1 in the League with 14 picks and the special teams set the SAC punt return standard with 20.4 yards per return.  The award marks his third SAC Coach of the Year plaudit in his career.

Catawba finished No. 1 in the League with eight first-team selections.  Carson-Newman placed six on the first-teams, while Newberry and Wingate put four players on the first team.  Mars Hill had three first-team picks and Limestone and Tusculum each recorded two.  Lenoir-Rhyne rounded out the list with one on the first-team.


Quarterback - Patrick O'Brien, Catawba

Running Back - Jared Dillingham, Carson-Newman

Running Back - Nelson Brown, Lenoir-Rhyne

Running Back - Lawrence Pittman, Wingate

Wide Receiver - Sam Mobley, Catawba

Wide Receiver - Keshaun Taylor, Mars Hill

Wide Receiver - Craig Rucker, Mars Hill

Offensive Line - Phil McDowell, Carson-Newman

Offensive Line - Quinzavious Sands, Catawba

Offensive Line - Brandon Berridge, Mars Hill

Offensive Line - Dakota Mozingo, Newberry

Offensive Line - Daniel Owens, Wingate

Tight End - Jourdan Osinskie, Catawba

Placekicker - Lee Brackman, Catawba

Long Snapper - Will Brasington, Limestone

Return Specialist - BJ Muckelvene, Wingate


Defensive Line - Montel Presley, Carson-Newman

Defensive Line - Jamarcus Henderson, Newberry

Defensive Line - Keito Jordan, Newberry

Defensive Line - Auntrell Mack, Wingate

Linebacker - Sha'Heem Stupart, Carson-Newman

Linebacker - Trey Evans, Catawba

Linebacker - Joe Blue, Newberry

Linebacker - Kyle Kitchens, Catawba

Defensive Back - Darius Williams, Carson-Newman

Defensive Back - Desmond Fairell, Carson-Newman

Defensive Back - Cris Page, Catawba

Defensive Back - Martez Thompkins, Tusculum

Punter - Hunter Cantrell, Tusculum AND Alex Haynes, Limestone


Quarterback - Derrick Evans, Carson-Newman AND David Salmon, Mars Hill

Running Back - Eamon Smart, Catawba

Running Back - Jerko'ya Patton, Limestone

Running Back - Blake Hayes, Wingate

Wide Receiver - Dorren Miller, Carson-Newman

Wide Receiver - Markell Castle, Newberry

Wide Receiver - Vyncint Smith, Limestone

Offensive Line - Jordan Seal, Carson-Newman

Offensive Line - Brandon Floyd, Catawba

Offensive Line - Jalen Soto, Lenoir-Rhyne

Offensive Line - Tyler Anderson, Newberry

Offensive Line - Connor Baroniunas, Wingate

Tight End - Jake Jensen, Wingate

Placekicker - Nick Smith, Limestone

Long Snapper - Ian O'Grady, Tusculum

Return Specialist - Jay Boyd, Tusculum


Defensive Line - Brian Bembry, Carson-Newman

Defensive Line - Omar Staley, Catawba

Defensive Line - Jordan Hemingway, Catawba

Defensive Line - Kelvin Atkins, Limestone AND Cardell Rawlings, Wingate

Linebacker - Sherrod Williams, Lenoir-Rhyne

Linebacker - Evan Patrick, Limestone

Linebacker - L'Keith Brown, Tusculum

Linebacker - Robbie Wallace, Wingate

Defensive Back - Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

Defensive Back - Jawanza Adams, Newberry

Defensive Back - Dee Alford, Tusculum

Defensive Back - Kam Johnson, Wingate


OFFENSIVE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR - Jerko'ya Patton, Limestone


OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Lawrence Pittman, Wingate


JACOBS BLOCKING TROPHY - Daniel Owens, Wingate

COACH OF THE YEAR - Joe Reich, Wingate

Statistical Champions

Rushing Yards Per Game: Lawrence Pittman, Wingate (114.7)

Passing Yards Per Game:  David Salmon, Mars Hill (276.6)

Total Offense Per Game: David Salmon, Mars Hill (267.7)

Receptions Per Game: Keshaun Taylor, Mars Hill (6.4)

Receiving Yards Per Game: Keshaun Taylor, Mars Hill (128.1)

All-Purpose Yards Per Game: Keshaun Taylor, Mars Hill (152.20)

Passing Efficiency Rating: Patrick O'Brien, Catawba (157.7)

Punt Return Avg.: BJ Muckelvene, Wingate (25.1)

Kick Return Avg: Chance Walker, Newberry (26.9)

Punting Avg: Alex Haynes, Limestone (42.1)

Scoring Average (TDs): Derrick Evans, Carson- Newman (9.8)

Scoring Average (K): Freddy McCollum, Wingate (7.4)

Field Goals Per Game: Freddy McCollum, Wingate & Nick Smith, Limestone (1.2)

Field Goal Percentage: Lee Brackman, Catawba (.800)   

Tackles Per Game: Robert Wallace, Wingate (9.5)

Sacks Per Game:  Kyle Kitchens, Catawba (1.14)

Tackles for Loss Per Game: Kyle Kitchens, Catawba (1.6)

Interceptions Per Game:  Darius Williams, Carson-Newman (0.5)

Team Scoring Offense:  Carson-Newman (33.1)

Team Scoring Defense: Catawba (17.6)

Team Passing Offense: Mars Hill (302.9)

Team Passing Defense: Tusculum (170.1)

Team Rushing Offense:  Carson-Newman (274.5)

Team Rushing Defense: Carson-Newman (95.7)

Team Total Offense: Mars Hill (413.5)

Team Total Defense: Carson-Newman (277.9)

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