CHICAGO – Saint Xavier University senior linebacker Zach Dolph (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic) was named the NAIA Football National Defensive Player of the Week Monday afternoon for his efforts in SXU's 12-6 victory over Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League foe William Penn University (Iowa) Saturday in Chicago. Dolph claimed the MSFA Midwest League Defensive Player of the Week honor earlier Monday, which put him in contention for the national award. It is the second time this season that Dolph has earned the national recognition with the first coming back on September 9 following the season-opening 31-24 win over defending national champion Marian University (Ind.) in overtime.
Dolph had a school-record 23 tackles (five solos), 1.5 tackles for a loss and a half sack in the victory to lead a Cougar defense that did not allow a touchdown and held the Statesmen to just 199 yards of total offense. It was also the fewest points allowed by the SXU defense this season (6). The previous school record was 20 tackles set by two players (Sean Kenney and Joe Miller) in the same game, a 42-13 victory over University of Saint Francis (Ind.) on November 10, 2007. On the season, Dolph leads the Cougars in tackles (85) and is among the top three on the team in solo tackles (2nd, 29), tackles for a loss (3rd, 5.5), sacks (2nd, 3), fumbles forced (2nd, 2) and interceptions (2nd, 1). Nationally, Dolph is among the NAIA leaders in tackles per game (11th, 10.6) and fumbles forced per game (16th, .3).
With this week's selection, Dolph becomes just the second player to earn multiple national "player of the week" awards in 2013. Austin Dodge of Southern Oregon was the first to accomplish the feat, winning his second award on Oct. 21. Dolph's selection also makes Saint Xavier only the second program to have three national players of the week this season joining Southern Oregon. SXU senior kicker/punter Spencer Nolen (Columbia, Tenn./Nevada/UT-Chattanooga/Columbia Central) earned the third honor on Sept. 30 after tying a SXU single-game record with five field goals.
Saint Xavier (5-3 overall/2-1 MSFA) heads to Davenport, Iowa, on Saturday, November 2, for a pivotal MSFA Midwest League showdown with No. 8 Saint Ambrose University (Iowa). The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Brady Street Stadium in Davenport.