Garoppolo, Lora on Walter Payton Award List

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Published on October 18 2013 1:15 pm
Last Updated on October 18 2013 1:15 pm
Written by Millie Lange

PHILADELPHIA – Three new players were added to the mid-season Walter Payton Award list this week by the Sports Network as Eastern Illinois remains the only school with two players among the 20 candidates this season.  Jimmy Garoppolo and Erik Lora remained on the list which recognizes the nation’s top FCS offensive player.

Garoppolo and Lora will lead the third ranked Panthers into action this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Southeast Missouri in the 96th homecoming game on EIU’s campus.  Tickets are on sale by calling 217-581-2106 or online at www.eiupanthertickets.com  EIU is aiming to set an O’Brien Field attendance record at this week’s game.

Garoppolo was named the Sports Network top offensive player for the first half of the season in an article this week.  The senior quarterback has set the OVC and EIU career records for touchdown passes as he ranks 17th on the FCS career list.  He broke the EIU record for total offense last week at Austin Peay as he currently leads the nation in that category.  He broke the OVC record for career passing yards on Sept. 28 against Eastern Kentucky and needs just 190 yards to break the EIU career record.  Garoppolo has 28 touchdown passes this season which ranks first among all NCAA Division I quarterbacks (FBS or FCS).   His 2,359 passing yards are the best in the FCS and second among all NCAA Division I quarterbacks.  He has twice been named the FCS National Offensive Player of the Week and four times he has won the OVC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

Lora continues to break OVC and EIU records in pass receptions.  He leads the FCS this season with 12 touchdown receptions moving into third all-time on the EIU career list.  He has 266 career pass receptions owning both the EIU and OVC career records.  At Austin Peay he became the EIU career passing yards leader.  This season Lora ranks third in the nation in receiving yards and second in the nation in pass receptions.  He set the school record with his 14th 100-yard receiving game with 133 at Austin Peay.  Last season Lora set the FCS single season record with 136 receptions.  

Fordham quarterback Michael Nebrich, Lehigh wide receiver Lee Kurfis and Samford all-purpose back Fabian Truss join other nominees on the Watch List: quarterbacks Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington, Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, Brock Jensen of North Dakota State, Jeff Mathews of Cornell, DeNarius McGhee of Montana State and Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern; running backs Zach Bauman of Northern Arizona, Shakir Bell of Indiana State, Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State, Timothy Flanders of Sam Houston State, Kyle Harbridge of Saint Francis (Pa.), David Johnson of Northern Iowa, Terrance West of Towson and Zach Zenner of South Dakota State; and wide receivers Jordan Harris of Bryant, Erik Lora of Eastern Illinois and Walter Powell of Murray State.

Last season Garoppolo and Lora both finished in the top ten in award voting marking the first time in award history a school has had two players rank in the top ten.  Lora finished fourth in voting and Garoppolo tenth.