Willie Quinn keeps winning awards, and now records are going along for the ride.
Southern’s dynamic return specialist was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Specialist of the Week on Monday for the third time this season. Quinn returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in the Jaguars 40-21 win against Texas Southern on Saturday in Houston.
Quinn’s sixth career kickoff return for a touchdown tied a Football Championship Subdivision held by Hampton’s Jerome Mathis. Quinn, who has five touchdown returns this season — four on kickoffs and one on a punt — is one touchdown return from tying the FCS single-season record held by Bashir Levingston of Eastern Washington, Corey Smith of Montana State and LeRoy Vann of Florida A&M.
“Willie Quinn is as good a returner as anyone in the country,” Prairie View coach Willie Simmons said Monday on the SWAC coaches weekly teleconference. “Obviously he has a knack for getting into the end zone, and (the Jaguars) take great pride in blocking for Willie Quinn.
“On film you can see that the front line and the up back take pride in blocking for him because they believe he can score every time he touches the football.”
Simmons said one of the Panthers’ points of emphasis during their open date last week was special teams after Quinn returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against them the previous Saturday.
Brown wins defensive award
Quinn’s teammates are also making a habit of winning SWAC player of the week awards.
Linebacker Daniel Brown was named Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after getting four sacks among his six tackles against Texas Southern. He also was named Louisiana Sportswriters Association Defensive Player of the Week.
“He’s a senior and you don’t know how many snaps you have left,” coach Dawson Odums said of Brown. “So you play with energy, effort and passion and he brings all of that to the field. When he controls his enthusiasm he’s as good a player as anybody in the conference.”
Southern has won seven SWAC player of the week awards this season. In addition to Quinn’s and Brown’s, quarterback Austin Howard has twice been named Offensive Player of the Week and linebacker Kentavious Preston was named Defensive Player of the Week once.
Jackson State players picked
The other awards for last Saturday’s games went to Jackson State players for their efforts in a 37-3 homecoming victory against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Senior wide receiver Devin Fosselman had three touchdowns among his six receptions and totaled 175 yards. His touchdowns came from 48 yards, 59 yards and 10 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Jarin Morikawa filled in for injured LaMontiez Ivy and passed for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 25-of-40 passes.
Southern’s victory marked the Jaguars’ ninth victory in their past 10 games that were played after a loss.
“I thought we were locked in,” coach Odums said. “The focus was there and we responded the way we needed to after not playing very the week before.”
Now the Jaguars face another team with a really good record in responding after a loss.
Alcorn State comes to A.W. Mumford Stadium on Saturday, having not played since a 35-34 overtime loss to Grambling on Oct. 17.
The Braves have won their next game after each of the seven previous losses during coach Jay Hopson’s three seasons.
“Each week is different,” Hopson said. “We just get ready each week. That’s the reality of it. This is a tough conference and we just have to prepare to bounce back. That’s what good teams do.”
Grambling getting balance
Grambling quarterback Johnathan Williams is a candidate to be SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, but he has been less productive the past two weeks.
That, however, isn’t necessarily good news for the Tigers remaining opponents.
Coach Broderick Fobbs credited opposing coaches and players for zeroing in on Williams, but there’s another factor.
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to running the football because we want to be a balanced team,” Fobbs said.
Williams has thrown approximately 25 percent fewer passes the past two games and averaged more than 100 fewer passing yards.
In the past two games, Grambling has averaged 6.8 yards per rush, compared to 4.6 before that, and rushing yards per game have risen from 176.5 to 255.
—Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.