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Kaepernick, Ault win WAC post-season awards

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick and head coach Chris Ault thanked their teammates and fellow coaches for helping them take home the Western Athletic Conference’s top post-season awards on Monday.

Kaepernick was named the WAC’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year along with Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Ault was named the Coach of the Year as the conference announced its All-WAC teams.

“That award is a wonderful reflection of the work ethic of this team and my coaching staff,” said Ault, who last won the Coach of the Year honor in 2005. “They are the ones who made this possible.”

Ault has led the Wolf Pack to a 12-1 record this season with an appearance in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl coming on Jan. 9 in San Francisco against Boston College.

Kaepernick, a senior, has passed for 2,830 yards and 20 touchdowns and has also rushed for 1,184 yards and 20 touchdowns. This is his second Offensive Player of the Year award (2008). He was also named the conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2007.

Boise State’s Moore, who won the award last year after being named the WAC Freshman of the Year in 2008, passed for 3,506 yards and 33 touchdowns.

“That award is a great tribute to Kap and our offensive football team,” said Ault, who is also the Pack’s quarterback coach.

“It’s a special award,” Kaepernick said. “But I see that as an offense award for our team. It was a complete total offensive team effort.”

Kaepernick and the Wolf Pack beat Moore and Boise State 34-31 on Nov. 26 at Mackay Stadium. The Pack quarterback, though, said he didn’t mind sharing the award with Moore.

“He’s a great quarterback,” Kaepernick said. “You can’t deny that. It’s great to share it with a player like that.”

The Wolf Pack placed nine players combined on the All-WAC First and Second Teams. Kaepernick, running back Vai Taua, tight end Virgil Green, offensive lineman John Bender and defensive end Dontay Moch were named to the First Team.

Wide receiver Rishard Matthews, offensive lineman Chris Barker, linebacker James-Michael Johnson and cornerback Isaiah Frey were named to the Second Team.

Boise State led all WAC schools with 14 players honored on the First and Second Teams combined. The Broncos placed 11 players on the First Team (six on offense and five on defense).

Hawaii, which shared the WAC regular season title with Nevada and Boise State, had 10 players honored. Fresno State, like Nevada, had nine honored. Idaho and Louisiana Tech both had five, San Jose State had three and New Mexico State and Utah State each had two.

Fresno State’s Chris Carter was named the Defensive Player of the Year and San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith was named the Freshman of the Year.

Carter had 11 sacks, 55 tackles and 16 tackles for a loss while Smith had 116 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and four sacks.

Moch, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, had a similar season to that of Carter. The Pack senior has 61 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 22 tackles for a loss with one game remaining in his season.

Taua has 1,534 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Green has 31 catches for 453 yard ad five touchdowns. Matthews has 49 catches for 793 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson has 84 tackles, three forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks and Frey has 46 tackles, one interception and has broken up 14 passes.

“All of the players named deserve it,” Ault said.