BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Marcus Fuqua snagged a share of the modern University at Buffalo football record when he made three interceptions in Saturday’s comeback win against Toledo.
Fuqua has an accolade for himself now as the first UB Bull to be named Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week by the Football Writers of America.
Two of Fuqua’s three interceptions came in the fourth quarter of UB’s 34-27 win against Toledo, the fifth in a row for the Bulls following an 0-3 start. Stampeding from down 17 after three quarters to score 24 unanswered points, UB beat the favored leaders from the Mid-American Conference West division to improve its record to 5-3 overall and 4-0 in the MAC.
“It showed us again that we are going to finish,” Fuqua said. “We are going to fight to the end and we are going to finish. Each of the wins we’ve had this season, we finished. And that’s something we didn’t have in the first three games.”
The junior safety from Southfield, Michigan is tied for the national lead with five interceptions, and has six of UB’s 17 takeaways through eight games. He is fourth on the Bulls with 35 tackles, while breaking up five passes and recovering a fumble.
Fuqua’s first interception against Toledo came on a heave at the end zone before halftime, prompting Fuqua to tell a teammate on the way to the locker room, “that’s a confidence boost there.”
The second interception landed in Fuqua’s hands on a pass deflected by Shaun Dolac, the linebacker from West Seneca who leads the nation in solo tackles with 62. Ron Cook ran 40 yards for the go-ahead touchdown four plays later. Fuqua picked off Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn a third time with 3:14 remaining after the Rockets had advanced into UB territory, and that turnover led to an Alex McNulty field goal in the final minute.
“It felt like they were throwing them straight to me,” Fuqua said. “But you’ve got to make the plays when they come your way.”
Fuqua also was named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week, while Cook received divisional Offensive Player of the Week recognition.
Cook was one of five players selected to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll after he rushed for a career-high 118 yards. The senior gained another 40 yards on three receptions, returned four kickoffs for 75 yards, and had nine first downs from scrimmage.
“That was a crazy performance,” said UB quarterback Cole Snyder, a Southwestern graduate. “Crazy runs, crazy catches. I feel good about getting the ball in his hands to make a play.”
The Louisville Sports Commission created the Paul Hornung Honor Roll in 2010 to honor its namesake and recognize college football players whose versatility often goes unnoticed.
The Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week award has been presented since 2001. This is the second time in three weeks that a MAC player has been honored, following Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell’s recognition on Oct. 11. The last time a MAC defender was selected came in 2018, and the last time two MAC players received the award in the same season was 2003.
UB is idle this week before playing Nov. 1 at Ohio with first place in the MAC East division on the line.
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.