BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Union College freshman Chris Thomas secured Mid-South Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors after helping the No. 11 Bulldogs to the 36-7 victory, the league announced Monday.
The award is the first for Thomas (Hopkinsville, Ky.), but this marks the 10th time this season a Bulldog received MSC Player of the Week recognition. Thomas is the second different Bulldog to win the MSC Special Teams award.
The 5-foot-11, 162-pound wide receiver averaged 34.7 yards per punt returns and 28.0 yards per kickoff return Saturday as Union defeated visiting Belhaven (Miss.) College. Thomas put the Bulldogs ahead 36-0 in the fourth quarter when he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown, marking the first punt return for a touchdown for the Bulldogs since Oct. 2, 2004, when Courtney Elesby returned a punt 83 yards for a score against Pikeville (Ky.) College. Thomas also set up another score when he returned a kickoff 41 yards to give Union the ball on the Belhaven 36. Three plays later, Union scored on a Terence Pollock (Orange Park, Fla.) 13-yard run.
In addition to his work on special teams, Thomas also hauled in three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. He scored the game's first touchdown when he pulled down a 16-yard pass with 9:33 to go in the first quarter.
On the season, Thomas is averaging 23.1 yard per kick off return (25 returns for 577 yards) and 9.4 yards per punt return (22 returns for 207). He is second on the team in receiving with 34 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas has also rushed the ball five times for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas is second on the team in all-purpose yards with 1,252 and is fifth in scoring with 36 points (six touchdowns).
Union (9-2 overall, 5-1 MSC East) qualified for the NAIA Football Championship Series for the first time in program history and will play at No. 3 University of Saint Francis (Ind.) Saturday at 12 p.m. Eastern.