After career performance, Nichols finishes 4th in Payton Award - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eastern Washington - Football

After career performance, Nichols finishes 4th in Payton Award voting

Matt Nichols ended his EWU career with a career-high 461 yards of offense in his team's loss to Stephen F. Austin in the opening round of the playoffs (Photo: EWU Athletics) Matt Nichols ended his EWU career with a career-high 461 yards of offense in his team's loss to Stephen F. Austin in the opening round of the playoffs (Photo: EWU Athletics)

by EWU Athletics

Concluding his assault on the EWU, Big Sky Conference and NCAA record books with a vengeance, senior quarterback Matt Nichols now owns the league's career passing, total offense and touchdown passes records and ranks in the top 10 all-time nationally in all three. In all, he broke 14 school records in his career, including six Big Sky Conference marks.

This week, the Sports Network announced that Nichols finished fourth in the voting for the 23rd Annual Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. The winner among the top three vote-getters will be announced on Dec. 17. The finalists are Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, Elon wide receiver Terrrell Hudgins and Southern Illinois running back Deji Karim.

After closing his career with a career-high 461 yards at Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 28 in the NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoffs, Nichols finished with 12,616 passing yards in his career to move into sixth in NCAA Football Championship history. He broke the career passing record in the 46-year-old Big Sky Conference of 12,207 held by Weber State's Jamie Martin (1989-92).

Nichols had 12,830 yards of total offense in his career to rank sixth in FCS history (the division was created in 1978). With a 455-yard effort at Southern Utah on Nov. 14, he broke the league's 17-year-old total offense record of 12,287 yards held by Martin. Nichols also finished his career with a school-record 96 touchdown passes to equal the Big Sky record and rank 10th in FCS history.

"It just shows his toughness and longevity," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin of the 2005 graduate of West Valley High School in Cottonwood, Calif. "A record like that shows a lot of things. A lot of players have talent but get hurt along the way, or this or that, but Matt has just been constant and one of those guys week-in and week-out who just brings it. He deserves the records -- he has worked hard to get that and I am really proud of him."

In his last six games alone, Nichols completed 64 percent of his passes for an average of 383.5 yards per game (2,301 total), 23 touchdowns, one interception and a passing efficiency rating of 162.7. He had at least 400 yards in his last three games, and four of his last five.

For his efforts, he was the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 and 2007. In 2009 he was selected as Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week three times and six times in his career. He also earned a pair of national player of the week honors.

Besides Martin, Nichols ranks ahead of such Big Sky legends as Montana's Dave Dickenson, NAU's Greg Wyatt, Idaho's John Friesz and Ken Hobart, and Eastern's own Erik Meyer. Meyer (2005), Dickenson (1995), Nussmeier (1993), Martin (1991) and Friesz (1989) have all won the Payton Award presented by the Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

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