Simply put, Kyler Fackrell is a big reason why Utah State’s football team rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit in a 31-27 victory over Nevada last Saturday at Maverik Stadium.
The Mountain West certainly took notice as the senior linebacker was selected as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. It’s the second time this season Fackrell has received this award.
“That’s awesome. I’m just very happy for Kyler,” USU head coach Matt Wells said during Monday’s press conference. “It’s huge for our program and for our defense. I mean, he’s just played his tail off and is a tremendous kid. It’s a great honor for him toward the end of his career at Utah State. (He’s) another kid that will play for a long time.”
Not only did Fackrell rack up 10 tackles — the third time this season and ninth time in his career he has recorded double-digit tackles — No. 9 recovered a fumble in the end zone to pull the Aggies even with the Wolf Pack with 6:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. Jake Thompson converted on the ensuing extra point to give USU the lead.
It was Fackrell’s fifth fumble recovery of the year, which is the most in college football.
“It is amazing,” Wells said when asked about that statistic. “(He’s at) the right spot at the right time. (He plays with) effort, want to, desire. ... I’m going to get that picture framed in the complex, because it’s a game of inches, and it was a huge recovery we had Saturday for a touchdown by him.”
In addition to leading the Aggies in fumble recoveries, Fackrell is tops on the team in tackles for loss (13.5) and is tied for first in sacks (4.0). The Mesa, Arizona, native ranks third in the Mountain West with 1.23 TFL a game and is USU’s second-leading tackler with 73.
On Sunday, USU tailback Devante Mays was named the College Sports Madness Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week. The junior rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries against Nevada.
Mays had arguably one of the nation’s most memorable carries of the entire season on a 35-yarder to the Nevada 2-yard line in the third quarter. On the play, No. 32 somehow spun out of a tackle attempt by three defenders and, at the 10-yard line, juked Ahki Muhammad so badly the cornerback fell down.
“It was a great individual effort to that point, and we had some receivers downfield blocking very, very hard,” Wells said. “... It was just a will to stay on his feet, and you wish he could have scored. I’m glad he got the score right after, but what a play.”