Pipkin, Goff headline awards for Dragons

The football season’s over, but the records keep falling while the awards pile up.

Tiffin University capped a breakout year with a program-best 11 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selections Tuesday, which included Antonio Pipkin being named GLIAC Player of the Year, Gary Goff being named GLIAC Coach of the Year, and the team’s first-ever multiple first-team GLIAC picks.

“It’s mind blowing to sit here and think about where we are and where we came from. It’s amazing,” Goff said.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “I’m still in disbelief.”

The Dragons earned their most GLIAC wins ever and their most overall wins in a decade, going 8-3 overall and 7-3 in conference play. They also finished second in the GLIAC South, their highest finish in program history. Tiffin went 5-6 overall and 4-6 in the GLIAC last year. But the won-loss record wasn’t the only area of improvement.

Opponents averaged just 22 points per game this year and scored 67 fewer points than last season, while the offense scored 31 points per game and committed just 11 turnovers, the fewest in the program’s 30-year history.

Tiffin did all that after several of positions were filled with new and inexperienced players due to several season-ending injuries throughout the year.

“We played a lot of young men this year that we weren’t sure were ready to play, but with the injuries they had to play,” Goff said. “Moving forward, they got a lot of experience and we get those injured players back.”

And it all led to the first GLIAC football coaching honor for Goff and Tiffin, and TU’s first postseason coaching award since 2006.

“To find out I received coach of the year honors, it was very unexpected. Did not pay attention to that at all,” Goff said.

“What an honor to be given that honor. I’ve got one of the best staffs in the country and they show up to work every day. The coaching staff and players have made all this possible because of the work they’ve done.”

Several of those players also earned honors, with Pipkin leading the way.

“I was ecstatic to find out last night Pipkin and (receiver Charles) Holland made first team, and Mason (Butler) and Willie (Mays III) and Stefan (Willis) were on the second team,” Goff said. “And today, found out Pipkin got GLIAC player of the year. That’s huge news.”

The senior quarterback, who earned his fourth GLIAC honor and was named the conference’s back of the year last year, capped his career with GLIAC career records in pass attempts, completions, yards and plays, going 870 for 1,369 through the air for 9,671 yards in conference play.

Overall, he went 980 for 1,514 passing for 10,940 yards and 91 touchdowns while running 509 times for 2,207 yards and another 25 TDs.

He is just the third quarterback in NCAA Division II history to rush for at least 10,000 yards and pass for at least another 2,000 in his career.

Pipkin is second all-time in GLIAC history in total offense, amassing 11,749 yards on 1,851 career plays. In the NCAA Division II record book, Pipkin is 13th all-time in total offense with 13,147 yards, 27th all-time in passing yards with 10,940, and is 19th all-time in total offense per game with a 298.79-yard average.

“Excited about him. Worked extra hard. I didn’t realize he was one of only three kids in Division II that passed for 10,000 yards and rushed for 2,000 yards,” Goff said.

Pipkin was joined on the GLIAC first team by junior receiver Charles Holland, who caught 77 passes for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 102.6 yards per game. He led TU in all receiving categories and ended the year 12th in NCAA Division II with 1,129 receiving yards, 17th in yards per game, 13th in receptions per game, and 25th in receiving touchdowns.

Holland trails just one former TU player in most receiving categories — Nate Washington, who spent 12 seasons in the NFL.

In the GLIAC record book, Holland needs 515 more yards to climb inside the career top 10 list. This is the second GLIAC honor for him; he was a second-team selection last year.

Butler, a two-time honorable mention GLIAC pick, landed on the second team this year after leading an offensive line that helped TU’s ground game improve by 439 yards. The offensive line protected their valuables as well, allowing 10 less sacks this season than in 2015.

On the other side of the ball, Mays was another second-teamer who led Tiffin in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (14.5), while also topping all TU defensive linemen in tackles (50).

Willis, another second-team pick, led the Dragons in passes defended and pass breakups en route to finishing his career with 13 interceptions, the third highest total in Tiffin history.

The honorable mention list included offensive lineman Ridge Tarwacki, running back Jerry Brown, linebackers Morgan Loyd and Jacob Mertus, and defensive backs Shawn Scott and DeJvion Edwards-Steward.

Tarwacki helped TU rush for 915 yards in the final three games, and Brown now has 1,833 career rushing yards and ranks fifth in all-time carries and yards in TU history.

Loyd tallied 57 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and an interception, and Mertus topped the team with 85 total tackles and 47 assisted tackles.

Scott picked off a team-best three passes and had a combined 11 passes defended, while Edwards-Steward registered 77 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a team high 43 solo tackles.