NEWBERRY – Redshirt freshman running back Chance Walker has been named the AstroTurf South Atlantic Conference Co-Special Teams Player of the Week for his kickoff return exploits at Virginia Union on Saturday.
The Swansea High School product returned a first-quarter kickoff for a score on the first return of his college career that knotted the score at 7-7. The return officially went for 100 yards, making Walker just the second South Atlantic Conference player in the last 26 seasons and sixth in league history to return a kickoff 100 yards or more for a touchdown.
Walker received the kick a few paces into the end zone, jogged as he followed his blockers to the left, and accelerated through a small gap just before the 20. A quick cut to his right at the 25 made a defender miss, and the freshman outran the rest of the Panthers to the boundary and raced down the sideline and into the end zone untouched.
The return was the longest in school history, surpassing Josh Pierce’s 98-yard return vs. Benedict in 2000 for the record. It was Newberry’s first kickoff return for a score since NFL free agent Corey Washington returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns in a postseason game at Carson-Newman in 2013.
Walker’s other return went for 31 yards, giving him a 65.5-yard average on a pair of kick returns. He has scored touchdowns in each of his first two collegiate games after a 26-yard reception at The Citadel last week.
Walker shares the honor with Tusculum kicker Isaac Gallegos, who was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and made three of his four PAT’s in a 39-12 win over Shorter.