September 28, 2009

Taiwan Jones Earns National Player of the Week Honors

Sophomore running back joins junior linebacker J.C. Sherritt as Big Sky Players of the Week after leading now No. 17 Eastern to convincing 56-30 win at Sacramento State

Sophomore running back Taiwan Jones has been honored nationally as this week's Sports Network co-Offensive Player of the Week. In addition, he and junior linebacker J.C. Sherritt have earned Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors after helping lead the Eastern Washington University football team to a convincing 56-30 victory at Sacramento State last Saturday (Sept. 26).

Jones shared the national honor with quarterback Tim Buckley from Alcorn State, and shared the Big Sky honor with Montana quarterback Andrew Selle and Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins. Sherritt, meanwhile, was honored by the league on defense for the second-straight week.

Jones, who is from Antioch, Calif., and graduated from Deer Valley High School in 2007, rushed for four touchdowns and had 190 yards on just 15 carries in EWU's win over the Hornets. Playing in just his fourth game as a collegiate running back, his yardage total was the 29th-most in school history, and the best by an Eagle since Dezmon Cole had 199 versus Weber State on Oct. 23, 2004.

Coupled with 69 yards on three kickoff returns and a pass reception for 20 yards, Jones finished with 279 all-purpose yards. He averaged 12.7 yards per rush, and 14.7 yards the 19 times he touched the ball as EWU finished the game with 537 yards of total offense.

Sherritt (left), a 2006 graduate of  Pullman (Wash.) High School, had 15 tackles, with 2 1/2 for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as EWU improved to 3-1 overall this season and 2-0 in the Big Sky. The Eagles moved up two spots to 17th in this week's Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision poll.

Sherritt has had three performances this season of 15 tackles, helping him move into sixth in this week's NCAA Football Championship Subdivision statistics. He is averaging 13.0 tackles per game (total of 52), which leads the Big Sky. He also ranks eighth nationally in tackles for loss with an average of 1.88 per game.

So far this season, Jones has 665 all-purpose yards for averages of 166.2 yards per game and 10.2 yards per touch. His average of 102.3 yards rushing per game leads the Big Sky and ranks 14th in FCS, and he is also 11th nationally in all-purpose yards per game. He has 409 rushing yards for the season and is averaging a lofty 8.3 yards per rush in an average of just over 12 carries per game.

"He's only played four games as a college running back, and he's been a little injured too," said Eagle head coach Beau Baldwin. "So he's going to get better with every carry, and that's what is happening to him right now."

Jones had 164 all-purpose yards versus Northern Colorado on Sept. 19, including 95 yards rushing on 18 carries. He also caught a pass for 16 yards, returned a punt for one yard and returned a kickoff 52 yards. His kickoff return would have been an 85-yard touchdown, but a penalty nullified it. Last season, Jones had a 93-yard return for a touchdown versus the Bears. That return helped convince the coaching staff to move him to running back in 2009 to help replace four departed seniors at that position.

He had an 87-yard touchdown on his first career carry in EWU's 35-14 victory over Western Oregon on Sept. 5. It equaled EWU's fifth-longest rush in school history, and was the longest for the Eagles since 1997. It also equaled the longest in the Big Sky since 1989 when Eastern's Dominic Corr had a 92-yard scamper versus Idaho State. The school record is 95 set by John Ditz against Lewis & Clark in 1954.

Jones missed the early part of the 2008 season with a broken fibula, but returned to start four games at cornerback for the Eagles.

Sherritt was also honored by the Big Sky the previous week when he had 15 tackles versus Northern Colorado on Sept. 19. Sherritt was also selected as one of four National All-Stars by College Sporting News for his performance against the Bears. Three of the tackles were for losses, including one on a third down play that forced the Bears to punt. He also recovered a fumble, one of four turnovers the Eagles forced in the 16-0 shutout.

"J.C. has played great in three-straight games," said head coach Beau Baldwin after the shutout against Northern Colorado, but he could have made the same comments after the Sac State game. "He has consistently been in double-digit tackles and is always around the ball. He's a great player and a great leader for us."

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