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Sam Benger, Brian Khoury and Carnegie Mellon Staff Receive Yearly UAA Football Honors

Sam Benger, Brian Khoury and Carnegie Mellon Staff Receive Yearly UAA Football Honors

From Carnegie Mellon University Athletics

Two days following the Carnegie Mellon University football team's victory in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Legacy Bowl, the Tartans placed 20 on the University Athletic Association (UAA) team. Heading the awards are running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) garnering Offensive Player of the Year, junior defensive lineman Brian Khoury (Davenport, Iowa/Bettendorf)  as Defensive Player of the Year with the coaching staff, under the helm of 30th-year head coach Rich Lackner, receiving Coaching Staff of the Year honors. The Tartans finished the season with an 8-3 record while they claimed the school's ninth UAA title. Of the 20 players selected, 11 Tartans garnered first-team accolades.

Benger rushed for an NCAA Division III-best 2,087 yards this season to go along with 22 rushing touchdowns. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Legacy Bowl after becoming the 21st player in Division III history to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. Benger's 22 rushing touchdowns broke the school's single-season mark held by Brad Stanley in 2003 with 21. The sophomore set the school's single-game rushing mark with 303 yards against then nationally ranked Washington & Jefferson College earlier this season.  Benger also became the Tartans' all-time single-season rushing leader after surpassing the mark of 1,326 yards held by Travis Sivek during the 2006 season. Benger is the first Carnegie Mellon player to earn UAA Offensive Player of the Year honors since quarterback Rob Kalkstein in 2012 and eighth overall.

Khoury is the third Tartan to be selected as UAA Defensive Player of the Year and first since Ray Ardire in 1995.  Khoury led the UAA and ranked third nationally with 13.5 sacks for a loss of 95 yards.  The junior set the school's single-game sack record with 4.0 against Bethany and then became the single-season Tartan leader following his 3.0 sacks at Thiel, passing the mark of 11.0 sacks held by Chris Balouris in 1989 and Anima Nwankwo in 1998.  Khoury totaled 19.0 tackles for a loss of 109 yards which is best in the UAA.   He ended the season with 54 total tackles, 33 solo, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Joining Benger on the offensive first team are three linemen in senior tackle Will French (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-La Salle), senior center Andrew Garibaldi(Flemington N.J./Hunterdon Central) and junior guard W. Tyler Reid (Lees Summit, Mo./Lees Summit West), along with senior wide out Graham Schilling(Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) and junior H-back Zach Cree (Vanderbilt, Pa./Connellsville Area).  There were two second-team honorees on offense in senior quarterback Andrew Hearon (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy) and sophomore wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel).

French, Garibaldi and Reid fronted an offensive line that helped the Tartans reach the 500-yard mark of total offense in six games this season including two games that saw the Cardinal and Gray total more than 600 yards.  The three also played a key part in blocking for the nation's leading rusher.  Cree also played a vital part in the Tartans' blocking upfront while adding seven receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Schilling led the team and was third in the UAA in receiving with 826 yards, which ranks second in a single-season at Carnegie Mellon. He broke the school's single-season touchdown mark with 11 receiving scores, passing the mark of nine held by Richard Bell in 1965 and Jarrod Siket in 1993.  In the Tartans' win over Case Western Reserve in the 30th Academic Bowl, Schilling broke his previously held school single-game record with 207 receiving yards and tied a career-best with nine receptions while catching a career-high four touchdowns.  He finished the season with 50 receptions, tying the mark held by Brendon Howe set in 2009.

Prather finished fifth in the UAA with 718 yards receiving and was tied for fourth with seven touchdowns.  In the ECAC Legacy Bowl, the sophomore recorded his first 100-yard outing with 112 yards on six receptions.  

Hearon became the Tartans' single-season passing, completion and touchdown leader this fall. He finished the season passing for 2,201 yards on 150 completions and 26 touchdowns. He passed Kalkstein's mark of 2,148 passing yards which was set during the 2012 campaign and topped the mark of 21 touchdowns thrown by Thomas Hubka in 1967 while topping his own completions total of 149 set a year ago.

Besides Khoury on the defensive side of the ball, there were three other Tartans honored with first-team accolades and three that were recognized on the second team.  Junior defensive lineman Jack Fagan (Milford, Pa./Delaware Valley), sophomore inside linebacker Stanley Bikulege (Greer, S.C./Saint Joseph's Catholic) and sophomore outside linebacker Kyle Brittain (Largo, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) landed a spot on the first team with senior outside linebacker Nico Comsa (Connellsville, Pa.), senior corner back Ryan Aitken (Alexandria, Va./West Potomac) and sophomore safety Drew Fitzmorris (Omaha, Neb./Westside) brining in second-team honors.

Fagan was third on the team with 7.5 tackles for a loss of 30 yards with 2.0 sacks.  He ended the season with 21 solo tackles and 34 total stops.  Bikulege was the team's second leading tackler with 68 stops, 33 solo.  His 68 tackles ranked 10th best in the UAA while he recorded a career-best 12 tackles on two occasions, against Washington & Jefferson and Bethany.   Brittain led the team with nine pass break ups and was second on the team with 10.5 tackles for a loss of 40 yards.  He was fifth on the team with 57 tackles, 36 solo, and also recovered and forced a fumble.

Comsa ended the season ranked fourth on the team with 58 tackles. Comsa ends his career 13th on the Tartan all-time tackle list with 182 for his career.  Aitken was the Tartans third leading tackler in 2015 with 64 stops including 50 solo, which led the team.  The senior ended the season with four interceptions and a total of 12 passes defended, third-best in the UAA.  Fitzmorris led the UAA with six interceptions and was fifth with 10 passes defended.  The junior led the team in tackles with 87 which ranked second in the Association.  

Sophomore punter Tyler Kohman (Pataskala, Ohio/Columbus Academy) was the lone special teams honoree on the first or second team, as he garnered first-team accolades.  Kohman averaged 39.2 yards per punt which was second-best in the UAA.  The sophomore booted a career-best 58-yarder earlier this season and placed 18 of his 44 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

For Lackner and his staff it marks the sixth time they have received the honor with the last coming in 2006.