MACON, Ga. - A day after leading the Mercer defense to seven forced turnovers in a 31-17 victory over Drake, defensive back Alex Avant has been named the Pioneer Football League Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the conference office Sunday afternoon.
The sophomore led the Bears against Drake with four solo tackles, seven assisted tackles, one interception and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.
After Mercer raced out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, Avant added to that advantage when the Lithonia, Ga., native picked off a pass and created a highlight film on the return. After pulling down the tipped pass, he slid to the far sideline, eluded a pair of tackles and cut back to the middle of the field where he raced to the corner of the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown return. The highlight play brought the 8,150 Mercer fans to their feet as the Bears jumped out to a 17-0 second quarter lead.
The highlight play was later picked up by ESPN on SportsCenter's Top10 and landed at No. 4 of the top plays in the country for Sept. 28, 2013.
"Well we did a corner blitz and the quarterback checked the pass because he saw me blitzing so I knew I had to jump right once he threw it," said Avant following the game. "So I jumped up, tipped it, it bounced off another linebacker and then the ball fell in my hands and I just tried to score. I caught it and then I went left and then remembered I was probably about to just go out of bounds and I was like I might as well go ahead and try to score. I guess somehow I ended up in the end zone."
That interception return gave Mercer its largest lead of the game as the Bears knocked off the two-time defending PFL champions in impressive fashion.
Avant is part of a defense that ranks No. 1 in the country FCS total defense, allowing just 241.5 yards per game. The Bears are also No. 6 in the nation in rushing defense and No. 8 in first down defense.
Avant and the Bears continue their Pioneer Football League slate next Saturday, traveling to California to take on San Diego. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. EST.