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Pennington MAC’s top offensive player

The Associated Press

Cleveland – Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington is the offensive player of the year, Miami of Ohio linebacker Dustin Cohen the top defender and Akron running back Brandon Payne is the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year, the league announced Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 01, 1999

Cleveland – Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington is the offensive player of the year, Miami of Ohio linebacker Dustin Cohen the top defender and Akron running back Brandon Payne is the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year, the league announced Tuesday.

Pennington, a senior from Knoxville, Tenn., led the Thundering Herd to an 11-0 regular-season record and a No. 11 ranking – the highest ever at the school. He was first in the MAC in pass efficiency, total offense (326 yards per game) and passing yards per game.

Pennington completed 255-of-374 passes for 3,515 yards with 10 interceptions. His 34 touchdown passes are the most in Division I-A. His 97 career touchdown passes are a MAC record.

Pennington received 40 of the 55 votes cast by media covering the MAC. Western Michigan quarterback Tim Lester was second with eight votes, while Miami running back Travis Prentice – the 1998 offensive honoree – was third with seven votes.

Cohen, a senior from Cincinnati, was second in the MAC with 138 tackles in 11 games, tied for fourth in sacks with nine and was tied for fifth in tackles for a loss with 19. He also intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown. He totaled 224 solo tackles, 200 assisted tackles, 20 sacks and six interceptions for his career.

Cohen received 29 votes, Marshall linebacker John Grace had 12 and Thundering Herd lineman Girardie Mercer (with four votes) was third in the balloting.

Payne, from Rankina, Pa., led the MAC in punt returns with 12.5 yards per return and also finished fifth in the conference with 845 rushing yards and second in rushing touchdowns with 13.

With 28 votes, he beat out Central Michigan wide receiver Jammarl O’Neal (14) and Ohio quarterback Dontrell Jackson (4 votes).