Syracuse Strong: Joshua Thomas, Kahari Alford earn Week 3 MVP honors

NFL referee Jeff Triplette signals a touchdown October 4, 2004 on Monday Night Football at Baltimore, Maryland. The 0 - 3 Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens 27 - 24. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
NFL referee Jeff Triplette signals a touchdown October 4, 2004 on Monday Night Football at Baltimore, Maryland. The 0 - 3 Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens 27 - 24. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /

Two players earned Player of the Game honors after the Week 3 matchup between the Syracuse Strong and the Upstate Predators.

For the first time ever, two players earned co-MVP honors following a thrilling 21-0 victory for the Syracuse Strong over the Upstate Predators. The Voice of the Syracuse Strong, Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden, spoke to both players after the game.

First, off we’ll start with some history, the Strong defense held the Upstate Predators scoreless in Week 3 for the first time in 2019, but it wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. Upstate was able to move the ball in between the 20s, but once they got into the red zone, they weren’t able to convert.

A lot of players stepped up to the plate, but one rose above the rest: defensive lineman Kahari Alford. He collected seven solo tackles, three assisted, five tackles for loss, and a sack.

"“I’m so grateful to my teammates man. It’s 100 percent a team effort, I didn’t do this by myself. I’m not selfish, I couldn’t have done this without everyone else helping out tonight. To get our first shutout of the season man, it’s a blessing. The fans here at the Valley Sports Complex are great motivation man. We try to create turnovers for the fans and to give the offense short fields to work with.”"

While Kahari is a new name that fans are learning, this next man needs no introduction. He kicked off our “Press Coverage” interview series earlier this year and he’s back in the fold once again as the co-MVP of this Week 3 victory.

"“At first the beginning of the game was rough. A lot of guys heads were down, we were in a funk and that affected us. We came in flat footed so when I was able to get the long touchdown to give a spark to my teammates, the fans, and the coaches, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity without my defense putting me in this position. I called it, I asked Jason Boltus to give me the slant on our all verts and once he gave me the ball it was all over, one move, stick my foot in the ground and go.”"

Joshua finished the game with five receptions for 87 yards and that aforementioned 64-yard touchdown. He also had a jet sweep for negative five yards.

Although the play that didn’t make it on the box score was arguably more impressive.

Syracuse was up 7-0 and looked like they were going to go up two scores in the red zone, but Jason Boltus’ pass got intercepted and it was off to the races for the Upstate Predators. Joshua was on the opposite side of the field and chased that Rochester defender to the ground and tackles him before he reached the endzone.

It would’ve been perfectly understandable for Joshua to give up on the play, but he didn’t, he prevented a freebie touchdown that his defense helped him out with on the next series getting a turnover on downs.

"“When I saw the interception, I thought to myself if I can get him, that could be the key to this. I always tell the guys that all it takes is one play. It could be offense, defense or special teams. At first, though I’ll be honest, I was jogging half speed because I thought Jason was going to get the tackle and then I said to myself Jason has it — Boltus then got blocked and then I said to myself, Jason does not have it. Then I got tunnel vision and just said to myself that I got to chase down and get this guy. I knew if I got this guy that my defense would pick up that energy and get the stop. It’s funny Kahari Alford (co-MVP of Week 3) said it to me, “you gave the effort to tackle him, so we wanted to return the favor.”"

Joshua said in that last answer, “all it takes is one play”, that same mentality helped Thomas when he was playing on special teams late in the third quarter. The Upstate returner caught the ball around midfield, started to go backward and lost the football. That’s when instincts took over for JT who was in the right place at the right time:

“When the ball came loose in front of me I just grabbed it and was thinking touchdown once I was in open field. I give 100 percent effort whether it’s on offense or special teams.”

Everyone back in pop warner, middle school, and high school practices the drill called “the scoop and score”. You’ll line up on one side of the field, your coach throws/rolls a football in front of you and your job is simple, grab the loose pigskin as quickly as possible and take it in stride to the house. When’s the last time Joshua practiced that drill?

"” To be honest with you I haven’t practiced that drill since I was in 10th grade (everyone in room bursts into laughter). When that ball came into my hand I was just thinking fundamentals back in high school. It was one bounce, the catch, and go. I thought I was about to get tackled, but once I gained my balance it was over.”"

At the end of the interview, Joshua wanted to make sure one message made it through the editing process and wanted to leave everyone with this:

"“I don’t care about the Player of the Game award, touchdowns, or the yards. It’s a blessing to be a role model for these kids and show them that there’s more to life than gangs, gun violence, and the like. My advice to those kids is chase your dreams regardless of what they’re, do whatever makes you happy.”"

Next. Syracuse Football: Ranking every SU first round pick in NFL Draft history. dark

Up next for the Strong they’ll go on the road for the first time in 2019, here’s what Joshua had to say about the upcoming challenge:

"“On the road, you only have your brothers with you (and some crazy super fans). When we’re traveling on the road for two or three hours, it’s all focus on the task at hand. We know that we all have each other’s backs. It doesn’t matter whether we’re away or home, we’re going to play Strong football, it’s simple.”"