Gabriel Watson, who broke the University of Sioux Falls Football’s game rushing record with 320 yards and scored five touchdowns in a 55-21 win over Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday (Oct. 20), has been named the D2Football.com National Offensive Player of the Week.
Watson, who was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Offensive Player of the Week for the third time, is the first USF player named D2Football.com National Player of the Week since Luke Papilion was honored on Oct. 14, 2015 after recording 506 yards in total offense in a 51-30 a win over Winona State. Papilion completed 26-of-41 passes for a career-best 413 yards and had a career-best six combined TDs. He also rushed 13 times for 93 yards and a TD.
Against MSUM, Watson set or tied four USF records as the Cougars ended a rare two-game losing streak with a 55-21 road win over Minnesota State Moorhead. Watson also set a school mark of 269 rushing yards by halftime and finished with a program-best game record of 320 yards on 19 carries with five touchdowns, which tied the school DII mark held by Luke Papilion (240 yards rushing, five TDs, vs. Northern State, 2013). Watson played just two series in the second half and had six carries for 51 yards in the third quarter.
A junior exercise science major at USF, Watson broke the school rushing mark with his final carry of the game, which was a 12-yard burst late in the third quarter. USF Athletics Hall of Fame running back David Ruter had set the rushing game mark with 315 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns against U-Mary in a first-round playoff win (Nov. 23) in 1996 when the Cougars won their first-ever NAIA national title.
A junior from Piedmont, Calif., Watson scored on runs of 79, 31, 2, 74 and 13 yards in USF’s victory over MSUM. He also had runs of 33, 18, 17 and 13 yards during the game. With his performance against the Dragons, Wagon raised his per carry average a full yard from 7.4 to 8.4 per carry. He has three games of 200 yards or more and six games of 150 yards or better through eight played in 2018.
Watson, the son of Kristine Humphrey and Willie Watson, leads NCAA DII in six rushing or scoring statistical categories. Behind a veteran offensive front, which includes preseason All-American Trey Pipkins, Watson has a DII-high 1,517 yards on 181 carries with a DII-best 21 rushing touchdowns. Watson, who set a school record with his eighth straight 100-yard rushing game, has accumulated five runs of 50 yards plus (81, 79, 74, 67, 54), and 16 carries of 30 yards or more in 2018. In addition, he has had 19 runs of 20 yards or more with 45 carries of 10 yards or more. He leads DII with 189.6 rushing yards per game.
With three regular season games to play, Watson ranks seventh all-time in rushing for a season at USF with his 1,517 yards. He is just nine yards behind USF Hall of Fame running back Mike Dvoracek, who had 1,526 in 2004. USF’s all-time single season mark is held by former USF eight-time All-American Max Mickey with 1,764 yards in 2016. Watson is 463 yards away from the NSICmark for rushing yards in a season, which is held by Tyler Tonderum of SMSU with 1,979 in 2013.
With his nation-best 21 TDs this year, Watson is tied for fourth all-time for a season at USF with Ryan Lowmiller (2009) and USF Hall of Fame running back Nick Kortan (2002). USF’s all-time season rushing touchdowns record is held by Ruter with 29 in 1998.
Watson’s 100-yard rushing games – 2018
Concordia St. Paul — 27 carries 200 yards, 3 TDs
@ Winona State — 29 carries for 172 yards, TD
Southwest Minnesota State — 19 carries for 193 yards, 2 TDs
@ Augustana — 23 carries for 140 yards, 4 TDs
Minot State — 15 carries for 205 yards, 2 TDs
@ Bemidji State — 27 carries, 126 yards, 3 TDs.
St. Cloud State — 22 carries, 161 yards, TD
@ MSU Moorhead — 19 carries, 320 yards, 5 TDs
Watson and the USF Football Team (5-3, 5-3 NSIC) will host Upper Iowa (3-5, 3-5 NSIC) on Saturday at Bob Young Field at 1 p.m.
Courtesy: USF Athletics