NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Manchester University senior Dakota Nelson earned first team all-North Region honors with the announcement of D3Football.com’s all-region awards Wednesday, Dec. 6.
The Fairland, Ind., native gained his second accolade from the website, as he was previously a second team selection in 2014. A return specialist selection for the top offense, Nelson concluded a storybook career for the Black and Gold this fall, ranking among NCAA Division III’s statistical top 10 in kickoff return touchdowns (2 – No. 2); combined kick return yardage (1,025 – No. 3); kickoff return yardage per attempt (28.6 – No. 6); and all-purpose yardage per game (190.1). He adds the first team all-region award to his second Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year recognition and third overall all-league mention.
Manchester University’s career leader in touchdowns (34) and single-season receiving yardage (1,116 – 2014) moves on to the ballot for All-American consideration. D3Football.com’s All-American team announcement is set for Friday, Dec. 15.
ANGOLA, Ind. – Five members of the Trine University football team have been named All-North Region by D3football.com for their individual efforts this season.
The Thunder had one first-team representative in senior offensive lineman Mitchell Watts(Goshen, Ind./Goshen). Three players were selected second-team in juniors Lamar Carswell (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales), Jeffery Barnett (Fremont, Ohio/Ross) and Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) and offensive lineman Andrew Hagar(Millersburg, Ind./Fairfield) rounded out the Trine selections as a third-team pick.
The teams, selected in balloting by North Region sports information directors and D3football.com staff, were chosen from 217 nominations by Division III member schools. A total of 75 players were chosen. Players nominated for All-Region are eligible to be considered for D3football.com All-America honors, which will be announced the evening of Dec. 15, in D3football.com’s pregame coverage for Stagg Bowl XLV.
Watts and Hagar helped anchor one of the best offensive squads not only in the MIAA, but all of NCAA Division III. During the regular season, the Trine offense led the conference in total offense (4,891 yards), yards per game (489.1) and rushing yards (3,403). Overall, the Thunder rank as the 15th best offense in the country (475.0 ypg.), including having the fourth-best rushing attack with an average of 329.6 ypg. As a unit, the offense set school records for rushing yards in a season (3,964), rushing TDs (48), rushing attempts (624), yards per rush (6.34) and rushing yards per game (329.6). Trine has rushed for over 300 yards in all but three games during the season and surpassed 400 yards on the ground three times with a season-best 428 yards against Monmouth (Ill.) College on Nov. 18.
Carswell recorded his second straight season with 1,000 yards or more (1,500 yards) and had a league-leading, and single-season school record, 22 rushing TD during the regular season (25 overall). His 1,500 rushing yards were the second most in a single season in program history. At the end of the regular season, he ranked in the top-five in the MIAA in several statistical categories including yards (3rd – 1,344), rushes (5th – 166), yards per game (3rd – 134.4), yards per rush (2nd – 8.1) and touchdowns (1st – 22). He had seven straight games, dating back to Oct. 7, with 100 yards or more rushing, including three games of 200 yards or more. Carswell is 10th nationally in rushing yards and fourth in rushing TD (25). He also set school single-season records in total points scored (162), total touchdowns with 27 (25 rushing and two receiving). For his career, Carswell is currently second all-time in rushing yards with 3,079.
Barnett earned All-Region honors as a returner for the second time in his career (third-team in 2015) after leading the conference in return average at 30.5 yards per attempt during the regular season and had one return for a touchdown that came via a 95-yard return against Albion on Oct. 7. His 95-yard TD return tied him for the third longest kickoff return in program history. Overall for the season, Barnett averaged 29.5 yards per return in 20 attempts for 590 total yards. In addition to his kick return duties, Barnett led the team in receptions (38), yards (830) and TD (nine). He ended the regular season with 709 receiving yards to finish fourth in the MIAA and his nine TD catches were second most. He also ranked in the top-five in yards per game (4th – 70.9) and yards per catch (2nd – 20.9).
Winters earns his second consecutive All-Region honor after receiving third-team defense accolades last season. The MIAA “Defensive Player of the Year” helped lead a Trine defense that was not only one of the top in the MIAA, but also in all of NCAA Division III as the Thunder led the nation in total turnovers with 37 (23 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries), third in turnover margin (1.50) and ranked 55th in total defense (315.3 yards allowed per game). Trine’s 23 total INTs ranked in a tie for fifth nationally with Winters recording six INTs alone. For the season, Winters made 26 tackles (20 solo and six assists), including a half tackle for loss, in addition to a forced fumble. In addition to his role on defense, Winters was also the team’s leading punt returner who averaged 16.8 yards per return for 218 yards and one return for a TD.
The Thunder finished the regular season 10-0 (11-1 overall) and were the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Champions. It marked the third time in program history that Trine posted an undefeated regular season (2017, 2010, 2008) and fourth MIAA Championship (2008, 2009, 2010, 2017).