Illinois State punter collects national special teams honor; SIU falls out of Top 10

Illinois State punter J.T. Bohlken was recognized Monday as the STATS Perform FCS National Player of the Year on special teams. (Photo by GoRedbirds.com)

Illinois State punter J.T. Bohlken’s right leg made a major impact on the Redbirds’ 17-10 upset win Saturday in overtime against Northern Iowa. Bohlken also put both of his legs to use on a key special teams play in the victory to earn a national award Monday.

Bohlken was named the STATS Perform FCS National Player of the Week on special teams after punting 12 times for a career-high 516 yards, an average of 43 yards per punt.

The senior launched two punts of 50-plus yards and had four downed inside the UNI 20-yard line.

On a fourth-down play in the second quarter, Bohlken ran for 21 yards and a first down. The play was ISU’s longest rush of the game.

Bohlken also was honored as the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s top special teams player this week.

In a defensive battle between the two conference rivals, Bohlken was a valuable player in terms of field position. UNI’s average starting field position was its own 27.

Bohlken’s punt yardage was an Illinois State record for a conference game, along with the most for an ISU player at Hancock Stadium.

ISU linebacker Zeke Vandenburgh was named the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week after posting career bests with 14 tackles and three tackles for loss. Vandenburgh, who hails from Freeport, had two of Illinois State’s season-high six sacks in the victory.

SIU drops out of Top 10

After losing for the second week in a row, Southern Illinois (6-3) dropped out of the national Top 10 in both FCS polls Monday.

A 38-28 loss to Missouri State in Carbondale on Saturday led to the Salukis falling eight spots to No. 15 in the STATS Perform media poll. SIU dropped seven spots to No. 16 in the American Football Coaches Association poll.

The Salukis are aiming to snap their two-game losing streak at noon Saturday against Indiana State (4-5).

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