Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Junior Defensive Back Mike Ward leads nation in fumble recoveries

#23 Mike Ward (A LycomingFootball.com File Photo)
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – With the completion of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Dec. 16, Lycoming College junior Mike Ward (Edgewater, Md./South River) officially earned the NCAA statistical title in fumble recoveries, as the safety jumped on five loose balls during the season to lead the NCAA Division III, according to the NCAA’s final statistics report release on Monday, Dec. 19.

#23 Mike Ward (A LycomingFootball.com
File Photo)
Ward led all Division III players in the category with those five fumble recoveries and he is tied for the NCAA lead six players from the Football Bowl Subdivision and Division II: Keishawn Bierria (Washington, FBS), Zach Barnes (West Liberty, II), Darius Darden (Fayetteville State, II), Dillon Dixon (Saginaw Valley, II), Myles Humphrey (Shepherd, II) and Antoine Young (Bowie State, II).

Ward was a part of a turnover in each of the first six games this year, establishing a new school record. He posted a first-quarter fumble recovery against Susquehanna that led to a Lycoming touchdown. Against King's, he dove for a first-quarter interception that led to another touchdown.

He added a fourth-quarter fumble recovery against Albright and he forced a fumble in the first quarter against Misericordia. Ward added two fumble recoveries and an interception against Widener. To extend the streak, he picked up another fumble recovery in the second quarter against FDU-Florham.

In addition to his five fumble recoveries, the ballhawk finished with two fumble recoveries and he picked off two passes, having a hand in a total of eight turnovers. For good measure, Ward also led the team with 73 tackles, 2.5 for loss and he added two pass breakups.

Ward is just the fourth Warrior to lead the nation in a statistical category, joining Larry Barretta (1986, total offense, 287.5), Scott Miller (1993, total interceptions, 9) and Tanner Troutman (2013, interceptions, 0.8).

The Warriors finished 3-7 overall under ninth-year head coach Mike Clark in 2016.