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Nolan receives CUSA honors

Dearco Nolan, shown here during a 2011 game at Tennessee, won Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts on defense in a win at Florida Atlantic this past weekend.
Published: 2:35 PM, 09/26/2013 Last updated: 2:36 PM, 09/26/2013

Author: Staff Report
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

IRVING, TX—Middle Tennessee’s Dearco Nolan and Reggie Whatley earned Conference USA Playerof the Week honors for their standout performances at Florida Atlantic, as announced by the league office on Monday.

Nolan, who is a fifth-year senior for the Blue Raiders, was an unstoppable force at Florida Atlantic. The Blue Raider defensive end gathered four tackles with a career-high three sacks, while forcing two fumbles in the victory.

The redshirt senior stripped the ball away from FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson at the MT 20 yardline to prevent an Owls touchdown late in the first half. The Atlanta product then sacked Johnson for a four yard loss on third down in overtime. That play forced the Owls into an all or nothing fourth down, which eventually sealed a Blue Raider victory.

Nolan was a standout in Cocke County during his youth sports days nearly a decade ago.
He was one of the top players on the gridiron for the Cocke County Middle School Fighting Cocks, excelling at defensive end under then coach Blake Briggs.

Nolan was also a standout in basketball at Northwest Elementary School for the Patriots.
Following his graduation from Northwest, he moved to Georgia, where he attended Westlake High School in Atlanta.

Nolan was rated one of the top five defensive ends in Georgia his senior season of 2008 and was clocked as one of the top-10 fastest ends in the nation.

At MTSU, he has seen the field in 34 games entering this year, after redshirting the 2009 season. He finished 2012 with a career-best 22 tackles and playing in 352 total snaps on the defensive side of the ball.

Whatley was tabbed C-USA Offensive Player of the Week, while Nolan earned Defensive Player of the Week accolades.

Whatley racked up a career-best 154 yards with three touchdowns on 10 carries in the Raiders’ thrilling 42-35 overtime win over the Owls. The Rome, Ga., product came off the bench to average 15.4 yards per carry on Saturday. He bolted 64 yards for a Blue Raider touchdown with just 1:32 left in the fourth quarter to give MT a touchdown advantage.

He also had TD runs of 19 and 15, while making a 33-yard run that set up a Middle Tennessee touchdown. In addition to his strong play at tailback, Whatley totaled 80 yards in two kickoff returns.
The two honors are the first for Middle Tennessee in the C-USA era. Last season, Whatley was named the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 5, 2012 for his performance against WKU.

On Tuesday, the tandem were named Tennessee Sports Writers Association Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week.

Middle Tennessee (3-1) returns to action this Friday, Sept. 27 with an 8 p.m. CT kickoff at BYU. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

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