South Dakota’s Barker, Little earn NCC football honors

South Dakota's Barker, Little earn NCC football honors
Brooks Little and John Barker of the 14th-ranked South Dakota Football Team (5-1, 3-0 NCC) have been named North Central Conference Football Players of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday.

Little and Barker both played key roles in the Coyotes' dramatic 10-7 come-from-behind win over Central Washington on Dakota Day at the DakotaDome on Oct. 7.

Little, a junior wide receiver from Castlewood, was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week with Tommy Flyger of Augustana. Little had a season-high seven catches for 57 yards, including hauling in the game-winning TD, to lead the South Dakota football team to the win over Central Washington (3-3, 1-3 NCC) on Saturday before a homecoming record crowd of 10,255.

Little caught a five-yard TD pass from Noah Shepard (redshirt freshman, Thornton, CO) with 14.6 seconds left to lift the Coyotes to their sixth consecutive homecoming win. With his receptions, Little moved into fifth place on the career receiving chart at USD. He now has 91 career receptions and moved past former Coyote great Dwight Duncombe, who had 87 catches from 1972-74. The seven receptions by Little was the second-best total of his career.

Barker, a senior defensive tackle from Sioux City, IA, was named the NCC's Co-Defensive Player of the Week with Nick Ovenden of Augustana. Barker had five tackles, two quarterback sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble in USD's win on Saturday.

Barker recorded two solo stops and assisted on three other tackles as the Coyotes had a dominating defensive effort against the Central Washington. Led by Barker, the Coyotes held the Wildcats to -3 yards rushing on 29 carries and a total of 166 yards in total offense. UCW had just 15 yards in total offense in the second half. Barker had two of USD's four quarterback sacks, including one on the final play of the game when he sacked and forced a fumble by Central Washington quarterback Mike Reilly.

Aided by the play of Barker, the Coyote defense has limited every opponent to less than 100 yards rushing this season and is allowing an NCC-best 42.3 rushing yards per game this season. The -3 yards allowed was the best performance of the season by the Coyotes, which have held four opponents in six games to 10 points or less. USD is allowing a league-best 10.2 points per game in 2006.

Both Barker and Little earned their first-ever NCC Player of the Week honors. Barker is USD's third defensive player (Jordan Davis, Sept. 5; Blake Hojer, Sept. 18) to earn the NCC honor in 2006 Little is USD's first player on offense to earn NCC honors this fall.

South Dakota will travel to face Western Washington (2-4, 1-3 NCC) in NCC action on Saturday, Oct. 14. The USD-WWU game is set to kickoff at 3 p.m. (CST) at Civic Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

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