Deshawn Pace named AAC Defensive Player of the Week

Deshawn Pace found out he was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week from his mom.

"She called me and she was screaming and stuff," Pace said. "I was like, 'What's wrong?' She was like, 'Didn't you know you won Defensive Player of the Week?'"

Pace's mom, Shellie, received the news Monday from a friend and then relayed it to her son. The University of Cincinnati sophomore earned the conference's top defensive honor after a career day Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana.

"I didn't expect it at all. It was just surprising," Pace said.

Pace had a game-high 10 tackles (nine solo) and had the late, fourth-quarter interception that helped seal the Bearcats' 38-24 come-from-behind victory over the Indiana Hoosiers.

After falling behind 14-0 late in the second quarter, Cincinnati rallied to take a 30-24 lead in the final frame. Pace then intercepted Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with 4:27 remaining and returned the ball 39 yards to the Hoosiers' 6-yard line.

Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Deshawn Pace (20) runs back an interception just short of a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Cincinnati Bearcats at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. The Bearcats won 38-24.

"We were in Cover 2, and the ball just landed in my hands," Pace said. "... Once he started scrambling and throwing off his heels, we knew we were going to get one. We told the DBs (defensive backs) we're going to get some more interceptions this game. Stay locked in. It ain't over yet."

Pace's interception, the first of his career, helped set up a 7-yard rushing touchdown by UC quarterback Desmond Ridder with 2:37 to play. Pace's pick and Ridder's subsequent score put the game out of reach and sent the Bearcats back on the road to their third straight win.

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