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'Dogs earn MSC All-West honors

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Nathan Jernigan was voted the Mid-South Conference West Division Freshman of the Year while Michael Nwokoji, AJ Harmon, Beau Baker and Nick Lennox were named First Team All-Mid-South West.

In addition Reed Gurchiek, Tucker Cathey, Simon Moriarty, Jernigan and Tyler Emmetts garnered Second Team All-MSC selection in a vote of league coaches announced Wednesday.

Jernigan led the Bulldogs with 66 tackles, including nine stops with two interceptions at Reinhardt University on November 9, helping the Eagleville native earn Mid-South Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The linebacker added eight tackles for loss with one sack, four total interceptions, three pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble while starting 10 games for the Bulldogs.

Nwokoji was leading the club in rushing with 523 yards on 120 carries and seven touchdowns before suffering a season-ending foot injury on October 19 versus Faulkner University. The Mt. Juliet native rushed for 191 yards at Belhaven University, 134 and three touchdowns against the University of Pikeville and 114 yards and two more scores versus Union College.

Baker has twice been recognized by the Fred Mitchell Award Committee this season for his excellent work both on-and-off the field. The Mt. Juliet native and Friendship Christian School graduate connected on 12-of-13 field goal attempts this season and booted 39-of-41 extra points. He kicked four field goals in the victory at Belhaven and his only miss of the year was a 47-yard attempt at the end of the half in last week’s contest at Alderson Broaddus.

Lennox saved his best for last, recording 4.5 sacks with a forced fumble and eight total tackles last week at Alderson Broaddus. The Watertown native finished the season with 62 tackles along with 14.0 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He is tied for eighth nationally in sacks and tied for 35th in tackles for loss. Lennox tallied a career-best 12 stops at the University of the Cumberlands in September and recorded all of his sacks over the last six contests.

Harmon started the final 22 games of his career at left tackle for the Bulldogs after beginning his career at the University of Georgia. He and Cathey, who started the last two years at both right guard and right tackle, helped Cumberland finish the last two seasons ranked in the Top 10 nationally in rushing offense and in the Top 20 in scoring offense.

Gurchiek ranked second on the club in rushing with 596 yards on 112 carries with five touchdowns. The Mt. Juliet High graduate also passed for 888 yards and four more TDs. His best game of the season came at Belhaven when he rushed for 189 yards and one touchdown and threw for 135 more and another score, the go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter.

Moriarty collected 33 total tackles and ranked second on the club with 10 tackles for loss to go with one sack and one interception, which he returned 15 yards for a touchdown against Pikeville. The Rockwood native posted three pass breakups, four QB hurries and one fumble recovery as well.

Emmetts averaged 42.0 yards per punt on 62 attempts this season, including 15 kicks downed or out-of-bounds inside the 20-yard line and 16 of 50-plus yards.

The Mt. Juliet native’s most important boot of the year may have come in the final minutes at Reinhardt when his 59-yard kick was followed by a great solo tackle from long snapper Scott Beach, pinning the Eagles deep in their own territory late in the contest.

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