Senior linebacker Xavius Boyd and junior defensive back Jonathan Dowling were named to a pair of Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week awards for their performance over the weekend, the conference office announced on Monday.
Boyd, who leads the Hilltoppers and the conference in total tackles with 45, was named the Defensive Player of the Week when he turned in his fourth-straight double-digit tackle performance on Saturday, helping the Tops to a 58-17 victory in their home opener over Morgan State. Boyd racked up 10 tackles (seven solo) against the Bears and picked up three tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks, and forced one fumble, his first of the year. Boyd also leads the Hilltoppers and the conference in tackles for loss (9.5), sacks (5.5), and assisted and unassisted tackles (22/23).
Boyd's 9.5 TFLs are five more than the next closest player in the SBC and rank him third nationally in the category. On the national scale, Boyd's TFL mark is good for No. 3 nationally in a per game basis and leads the nation on a pure numbers scale. Additionally, his 5.5 sacks are tied for the national lead in numbers alone and rank No. 4 per game.
Boyd is also the only player in the SBC with at least 10 tackles in every game and one of just five nationally to set that standard.
Dowling earned the SBC Special Teams Player of the Week honor for his play on Saturday which included recovering a blocked field goal attempt and racing 70 yards for the touchdown. It was the first time a blocked field goal had been returned for a touchdown by the Hilltoppers since they became an FBS member in 2008 and was the second career touchdown of his career. The touchdown also marked the first special teams touchdown of the season for WKU and first since Antonio Andrews returned a punt 70 yards for the score in the 2012 season opener against Austin Peay.
It is the first time this season the Hilltoppers had earned player of the week awards from the conference and third time this year a team has earned multiple weekly awards. This is the first weekly honor of Boyd's career and second of Dowling's, who was named the Defensive Player of the Week following last season's Kentucky game.
The Hilltoppers return to action on Saturday, Sept. 28, when they host Navy at Houchens-Smith Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNews.