On Campus: Skyline grad Blair leads Division II in tackles for loss

Zach Blair (Skyline 2013) is having a dominating football season for the University of Virginia-Wise.

The junior linebacker was named Mountain East Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. He had nine tackles and blocked an extra point attempt in the Cavaliers’ 24-19 win over Urbana University last weekend.

Blair also had three tackles for loss. He now has 23 1/2 tackles for loss, which leads all of Division II and the Mountain East Conference.

For the season Blair leads the team with 101 tackles. It’s the first time he has eclipsed the 100 mark in his career. He’s second in the Mountain East Conference in tackles this season.

Blair also leads the conference and is fourth in Division II in blocked kicks with three. He also is now tied for the career lead in blocked kicks at U.Va.-Wise with four. Blair is also second all-time in school history in career tackles for loss. Blair has 57. The school record is 63 by Shane Kilgore.

Blair also has 41/2 sacks this season, two forced fumbles, four pass break-ups and two quarterback hits.

The Cavaliers are 1-8, including 1-7 in the Mountain East Conference. They play at West Virginia Wesleyan College at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Gaining attention: The University of Pittsburgh’s football team is having a stellar season. George Aston (Sherando 2014) is doing his part in helping the team to get off to a solid start.

The Panthers are 6-2, including 4-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and were ranked in the AP Top 25 poll a few weeks ago.

The redshirt freshman fullback has played in all eight games, and has started in three of those. Aston has five receptions out of the backfield for 18 yards this season for the Panthers.

He’s helped pave the way for a bevy of running backs. Pittsburgh has rushed for 1,355 yards on 323 carries and 12 touchdowns. Nine different players have carries this season.

At 6-2, the Panthers are off to their best start in six years. When the Panthers were ranked a few weeks ago it was the first time Pittsburgh had been ranked in the top 25 since 2010.

Aston was originally expected to play at linebacker for the Panthers, but moved to fullback this year under first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi.

The Panthers’ only losses came to No. 10 ranked Iowa, 27-24, on Sept. 9 and No. 21 ranked North Carolina, 26-19, on Oct. 29. Pittsburgh hosts No. 8 ranked Notre Dame at noon Saturday.

Postseason success: The University of Virginia’s Thomas Madden (Skyline 2013) is peaking at the right time for the Cavaliers.

Madden was third on the team for the Cavaliers in the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s cross country championship held in Tallahassee, Florida on Oct. 30.

The junior finished 25th overall in a time of 24;26.5. The No. 7 ranked Cavaliers placed third in the 8K race at Apalachee Regional Park. Syracuse won the meet with 46 points, followed by N.C. State with 96 and U.Va. with 115.

On Sept 26, Madden finished 12th (24:16.9) in the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational held on U.Va.’s home course. Madden was fifth for the Cavaliers, who won the 8K race with 41 points, 17 points ahead of second-place Oklahoma.

Virginia hosts the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 13 at Panorama Farms in Earlysville at noon.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com