Garoppolo, Lora Recognized By FCS ADA


Published on December 18 2013 10:21 am
Last Updated on December 18 2013 10:21 am
Written by Millie Lange

CLEVELAND -  All year long Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Erik Lora hooked up on the field to set both school and conference records.  On Monday they were named the best at their individual positions as the Ohio Valley Conference had three overall football players recognized as the best at their position nationally by the Division I Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA)

Garoppolo was named FCS Quarterback of the Year, Lora was named FCS Wide Receiver of the Year and Tennessee State junior Daniel Fitzpatrick was named FCS Defensive Back of the Year.

This year marked the first for the FCS ADA to recognize the top student-athletes in the FCS at 11 different positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, PK, P, DL, LB, CB and RS) as part of the FCS All-American Awards. The awards were determined by a vote of FCS sports information directors and media representing each of the 13 FCS conferences and took into consideration play during the 2013 regular season.

In addition to the 11 positional awards which were announced on Tuesday, there will also be an Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year which will be announced in conjunction with the FCS National Championship game on Saturday, January 4 in Frisco, Texas.

The three selections from the OVC were the most of any FCS Conference; the Big Sky, CAA, Missouri Valley Football and Southland Conferences had two selections apiece. Eastern Illinois was one of only two schools (Southeastern Louisiana being the other) with two winners.

Garoppolo, the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner, put together the finest season by an OVC quarterback in smashing virtually every OVC season and career record while leading his team to a 12-2 overall record, second-straight OVC Championship and berth in the FCS Playoff quarterfinals. In 14 games he completed 375-of-568 passes (66.0%) for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns (against only nine interceptions) while also rushing for four touchdowns and catching a touchdown pass. His 53 touchdowns are currently the third-most in FCS history (three behind the record) while his 5,050 yards is second all-time, just 26 behind the record set a year ago; he is one of just two players in FCS history to eclipse 5,000 passing yards in a season. No Division I player (FBS or FCS) currently has more passing yards or touchdowns than Garoppolo does this season. Garoppolo also ranks first nationally this season in passing yards/game (360.7), second in points responsible for/game (25.3), third in total offense (365.1 yards/game), fourth in passing efficiency (168.3) and fifth in completions/game (26.79).  He directed Eastern Illinois to the No. 1 ranked offense nationally in terms of both total offense (589.5 yards/game) and scoring offense (48.2 points/game).  Garoppolo, who was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Year, was named FCS National Player of the Week three times during the season and OVC Player of the Week a record-tying seven times (bringing his career total to nine, which also tied the OVC all-time mark).

Lora followed up his record breaking 2012 season (where he was named OVC Player of the Year) by catching 123 passes for 1,554 yards and 19 touchdowns in 14 games. The 123 catches were the second-most in NCAA FCS history, trailing only the record-setting 136 catches he had in 2012. The 1,544 yards were the second-most in OVC history (behind only his record of 1,664 set last year) and 15th in FCS history. His 19 receiving touchdowns were the most in OVC history as were his 35 career receiving touchdowns. Lora finished his career with 332 catches, second-most in FCS history while his 4,006 career receiving yards were the 11th-most in FCS history. Lora had eight games with double-digit catches in 2013, including a season-best 18 in the team’s finale, a FCS quarterfinal matchup with Towson. He had 14 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns in a game against FBS opponent Northern Illinois and added 10 catches for 186 yards and three scores in a win over rival Illinois State. In total he caught three touchdown passes in four different games.

Fitzpatrick picked off six passes during the regular season and added two more in the team’s first round FCS Playoff victory over Butler. The eight total interceptions currently leads all Division I players (FBS or FCS). Of those eight interceptions the junior returned three for touchdowns, scoring a 50-yarder against Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, returning what proved to be the game-winner 20 yards at UT Martin and a 26-yarder at Butler. He added a season-high nine tackles twice during the season, in a victory at nationally-ranked Jacksonville State and against nationally-ranked Eastern Illinois in the playoffs. During the middle of OVC play he had a stretch of three-straight and four of five games with at least one interception. His play was helped the Tennessee State secondary rank third nationally in passes intercepted (21) and ninth overall in turnovers gained (31). Overall the Tigers defense ranked sixth nationally in total defense (296.9 yards/game) and seventh in scoring defense (18.1 points/game) which helped the team win 10 games, finish second in the OVC, earn its first playoff berth since 1999 and its first playoff victory since 1986.