(STATS) – Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff and Yale linebacker Matthew Oplinger gave praise to their teammates on Monday when they won the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League’s offensive and defensive players of the year.
In a vote of the league’s eight head coaches, Kanoff earned the offensive award over Penn senior wide receiver Justin Watson, while Oplinger was selected over Brown senior defensive end Richard Jarvis and Penn junior linebacker Nick Miller.
Kanoff, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior, directed the Ivy League’s top-rated offense, setting the league’s all-time single-season passing records with 3,474 yards and a 73.2 completion percentage. He also set Princeton records for completions (284) and touchdown passes (29).
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“It’s a big honor to win this award on behalf of my teammates because football is the ultimate team sport,” Kanoff said in accepting the Bushnell Cup at a news conference in New York. “You’re passing, you’re totally relying on your offensive line and the running backs blocking and on guys running the right routes, guys making great plays and on a great play-caller. And I think we did all those things really well.”
Oplinger, a 6-3, 242-pound senior, spearheaded the league champion Bulldogs’ top-rated defense with 11 1/2 sacks and 1 1/2 tackles for loss – both league highs – and had 42 tackles. He ranks second in the FCS in sacks and sacks per game (1.15).
“Defense isn’t a one-man show out there, it’s really a team award,” Oplinger said. “It’s good to be able to walk away as a Yale football player and as a Yale defensive player (and) see that we’ve got some acknowledgement for what we did this season. This award isn’t just for me, it’s just my one-eleventh of the 10 other guys out there.”
Kanoff is a finalist for the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award and Oplinger a finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which both honor the national player of the year. Watson, the Bushnell Cup runner-up for the third straight season, also is a Payton Award finalist.