Nov. 15 – GREENVILLE, Pa. – Bethany College senior linebacker Donavan Hayden (Hyattsville, Md./Northwestern) was named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Defensive Player of the Year announced the league office Tuesday afternoon.
Hayden, who was also tabbed a First-Team All-PAC linebacker, was one of 13 all-conference selections from Bethany. Senior offensive lineman James Norkus (Salem, Ohio/Salem), junior defensive end Khalid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) and defensive back/punter Aaron Frye (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) were all named Second-Team All-PAC, with Frye earning honors at both positions.
Eight Bison were named to the All-PAC Honorable Mention list, including running back Jalen Holmes (New Castle, Pa./New Castle), wide receiver Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest), tight end Dustin Hess (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Upper St. Clair), defensive back Daulton Freeman (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville), defensive lineman Daniel Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills), offensive lineman Jaymier Scarbrough (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills), linebacker Colin Johnston (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon) and return specialist Raekwon Wright (Baltimore, Md./Patterson).
Hayden led the PAC and ranked second in all of NCAA Division III with 142 tackles (14.2 tackles per game), including 82 solo tackles. His 20 tackles for loss led the league and ranked him 10th in Division III and the three-time PAC Defensive Player of the Week also led the conference and tied for eighth nationally with four forced fumbles this season.
Hayden, who was named an All-PAC Second Team honoree in 2014 and 2015, became Bethany’s all-time leader with 360 career tackles in the team’s 32-31 come-from-behind win over Saint Vincent to end the season. Hayden’s selection as defensive player of the year marks the second-time in three years that a Bison has earned the award. Former lineman Nadim Raddar claimed the honor following his 12.5-sack 2014 campaign.
Norkus earns all-conference laurels for the first-time in his career. The Salem, Ohio native and senior captain started all 10 games in each of the past two seasons and helped open holes for one of the most prolific running backs in Bethany history in Jalen Holmes.
Pierce, who was a PAC Honorable Mention in 2014, led the team and ranked fifth in the conference with 6.5 sacks this season. He also finished ninth in the PAC with 12.5 tackles for loss.
Frye ranked second on the team and first among defensive backs in the PAC with 71 total tackles (48 solo) this year to become a three-time all-conference defensive back (HM in 2014 and 2015). A first-team punter in 2015, Frye led the league with 42.8 yards on a conference-high 64 attempts. His performance ranks as the second-best single-season average in school history.
Scarbrough, Gibson and Holmes each became multi-time All-PAC award winners with their inclusion on the honorable mention list. Wright and Johnston were two of only eight freshman to be included on the All-PAC teams. Ambush, Hess and Freeman joined Wright and Johnston as first-time all-conference selections.
Bethany recently concluded its season at 3-7 overall, 2-6 in league play, and enter the offseason on the heels of a two-game winning streak after it defeated Grove City and Saint Vincent to close out the year.