Tulane running back Tyjae Spears earns New Orleans Athlete of the Month honor

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Tyjae Spears
(Photo: Parker Waters)

Junior Running Back Has Green Wave in AAC Championship on Saturday

NEW ORLEANS – Tulane running back Tyjae Spears has been selected as the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month for November. Monthly award-winners are selected by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Spears is the second straight Green Wave football player to earn the honor, joining quarterback Michael Pratt, who collected the October award.

Greater New Orleans Amateur Athletes of the Month

A junior running back from Ponchatoula, Spears led Tulane to a 3-1 record in November and an opportunity to play for the American Athletic Conference (AAC) title at home tomorrow (Saturday) against UCF. In four games in November, Spears rushed 70 times for 589 yards and five touchdowns and he extended his streak of games with 120 or more rushing yards to six – the longest active streak in the nation. He also added a receiving touchdown.

His top performance came on November 25 against Cincinnati when he ran for a season-high 181 yards on 35 carries as the Green Wave shocked Cincinnati on its home field, 27-24, to wrap up the AAC regular-season title and home field for the league championship game. The win snapped the Bearcats’ 32-game home winning streak. It was also the first time that Tulane has beaten a ranked team since 1984 and the first time that the Green Wave won a ranked-against-ranked match up since 1956 against Ole Miss. Spears rushed for 121 yards and two TDs in a Nov. 17 win over SMU and 157 yards in a Nov. 5 victory over Tulsa. In the Wave’s lone loss of the month, the 5-11, 195-pounder tallied 130 rushing yards on just eight carries in a loss to UCF. On November 30, Spears was named the AAC’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Tomorrow’s showdown with No. 22 UCF at Yulman Stadium will be the first-ever conference championship game appearance for the 18th-ranked Green Wave. Tulane has not won a league title since 1998.
Spears earned the honor over a pair of high school football stars and two elite volleyball players.

• Harlem Berry, a sophomore running back from St. Martin’s Episcopal, Berry, had a marvelous November in leading the Saints into uncharted territory. Berry, who has offers from virtually every big program in the country, led St. Martin’s to the LHSAA Select Division IV semifinals, the first semifinal in school history, with three November victories. For the month, Berry rushed 57 times for 670 yards and eight touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and had a 2-point conversion. His biggest game of the month came as the Saints’ won the first quarterfinal game in school history (the school was founded in 1947 and lost in quarterfinals in 1968 and 1974). In the 29-25 win over fifth-seeded St. Mary’s on Nov. 25, Berry had 29 carries for 306 yards and four TDs, including the go-ahead TD and a two-point conversion with 1:18 to go in the game despite battling cramping. He ran for 202 yards and a pair of TDs in a 48-12 regional playoff win over Delhi Charter on Nov. 18. He added 162 yards (on 11 carries), two rushing TDs and a 32-yard receiving score in a 43-20 win over Varnado on Nov. 4 to close the regular season.

• Angela Egonu, an outside hitter for the Xavier University women’s volleyball team recorded 59 kills with a .234 hitting percentage, three aces, 10 blocks, 31 digs and three assists as she led Xavier to the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. The senior from Manchester, England, was named the MVP of the tournament after tallying a career-high 15 kills in the semifinals against Southwest (N.M.) and then topping that with 20 kills in the championship match against top-seeded Our Lady of the Lake. A finance major at Xavier, she has a cumulative GPA of 3.77.

• Brother Martin star Torey Lambert led the Crusaders to three consecutive playoff victories to reach the LHSAA Select Division I semifinals. For the month, the senior running back rushed 143 times for 778 yards and 8 touchdowns along with 5 catches for 45 yards in the four games played. In a 28-14 state quarterfinal win over Northwood on Nov. 25, he set a school-record with 47 carries, finishing with 277 yards and a pair of TDs (to go with two receptions for 20 yards). On Nov. 18, he ran 38 times for 130 yards and two TDs to go with three catches for 25 yards in a 27-24 playoff win over St. Aug. He had opened the playoffs with 29 carries for 264 yards and three scores in a 45-20 win over Woodlawn (BR). He has committed to play football at Texas State in the fall.

• Ellie Schneider led Country Day to the LHSAA Division V state championship in November. The 6-4 middle blocker was a dominant force, putting away 28 kills to earn Most Outstanding Player honors, as Country Day outlasted Westminster Christian 24-26, 25-20, 25-16, 20-25, 15-7 in the championship match in Lafayette on Nov. 12. In five total November playoff matches, she recorded 71 kills with a .458 hitting percentage to go with 15 digs, 9 aces and 8.5 blocks. In addition to her championship match performance, she posted 15 kills in the Cajuns’ 25-15, 25-17, 25-14 win over Ascension Episcopal. It was the seventh straight state championship for Country Day and the 13th in 14 years for the Cajuns. She has signed to play volleyball at Kansas in the fall.

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee has been selecting an Amateur Athlete of the Month each month since 1957. The athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region in order to be eligible.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 100 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 20 Heisman Trophy winners in its 88-year history. The 89th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will feature top teams from the SEC and the Big 12, is scheduled to be played on December 31, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.2 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.

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