Albany State middle linebacker Jarvis Brice will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg.
WHO: Albany State (1-0) at Wingate (0-1)
WHAT: First road game of 2012 for the Rams.
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Wingate, N.C..
RADIO: 98.1 FM.
ONLINE: For live scoring updates go to twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.
ALBANY — Jarvis Brice crumbled to the grass, clutching his left leg.
It all happened in an instant — a low cut block from a North Greenville player that snapped Brice’s leg and ended his season five minutes into Saturday’s season opener.
It was also a crushing blow to Albany State’s defense.
“He was going to be our starting middle linebacker, and now he is gone for the year,” ASU coach Mike White said. “It’s a huge loss for us.”
Brice, who played his first two seasons at Georgia Military College and last year at Virginia Union University, broke his leg on a third-down play with 9:34 left in the first quarter after colliding with a North Greenville blocker.
Outside linebacker Marcavius Dudley was one of the first to kneel next to Brice after the injury.
“He was just saying, ‘Hold it down for me,’ ” Dudley said. “He is taking it pretty well. He is in pain, but he is taking it pretty well.”
Brice had surgery Sunday morning, and White said he plans to give the Athens native a medical red shirt so he can rejoin the team next season.
“I thought the guys did a good job of pulling together and keeping us going, because (the injury) hit us right there at the (beginning) of the game,” White said. “The other backers made a good adjustment, got in there and did a good job overall. He will be missed, and the other guys will just have to pick it up.”
In Brice’s absence, Dudley, who had a team-high 12 tackles and four tackles for losses Saturday, will move to middle linebacker, while Tavarius Washington, a freshman from Waynesboro, will start as an outside linebacker.
“It really won’t be much of an adjustment,” Dudley said.
Dudley continued: “I am used to playing all the positions. I have been playing both (outside and middle linebacker) since I was a freshman, so it’s not really a transition. It’s just a move to another spot.”
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rams’ running back Nathan Hoyte rushed for a career-high 194 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in Saturday’s game and was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week.
“I wasn’t really playing for it,” Hoyte said. “It’s a nice little achievement, but it’s more about the win really.”
The senior from Walford, Md., who transferred to ASU from Shepherd University (W.V.) before the 2011 season, is No. 6 in the nation among Division II rushers.
After the game, Hoyte credited his offensive line for opening up holes during his 47- and 34-yard touchdown runs.
“After the runs, I just told them, ‘Thank you. Thank you,’ ” said Hoyte, who led all ASU rushers last season with 774 yards and seven TDs. “They were making jokes about how I could have gotten an 80-yard touchdown or I could have gotten 200 yards if I would have done this or that.”
Hoyte single-handedly gained more rushing yards Saturday than the entire Rams team did in all but one game last season (The lone exception was Nov. 12 against Miles when ASU rushed for 220 yards).
Other awards handed out by the conference were to Miles’ Julantate English (Defensive Player of the Week), Stillman’s Josh Straughan (Newcomer of the Week), Morehouse’s Marlon Jones (Offensive Lineman of the Week) and Lane’s David Castillo (Special Teams Player of the Week).
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: Backup quarterback Keenan Grissett threw an incomplete pass on his only attempt and rushed for minus-23 yards against North Greenville, but offensive coordinator Uyl Joyner said the speedy QB will see an increased role Saturday against Wingate.
“He would have played a little bit more last Saturday, but the snaps were throwing us off, so we stayed with (starting QB David) Kooi back there,” Joyner said.
Starting center Hakeem Lassiter left the game with a cut on his ear in the first half, and Grissett had difficulties receiving the exchange from backup center Taylor Benchoff.
Benchoff, a freshman from Waycross, sent the snap sailing over Grissett’s head twice in the third quarter — one ended in a safety and the other went down as a 23-yard loss for Grissett.
But Grissett, who lost the competition with Kooi for the starting QB spot, is likely to get more opportunities to run the ball Saturday.
“Keenan has some ability that we need to use,” Joyner said. “He is a good athlete, and we want to get good athletes on the field. I don’t want to put him in a position where he is uncomfortable, and he is comfortable behind that center.”
Kooi was 11-for-20 with 110 yards and an interception and rushed for 21 yards on three attempts Saturday. On Tuesday, Grissett said he is fine with his role with the team and — like Kooi — is just concerned with winning.
“Kooi did a great job managing the game,” Grissett said. “We made the catches that we needed to, to move the ball.”