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SDSU's Penny accepts NIU player's apology for eye gouge

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

By BERNIE WILSON

AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny says he received an apology Monday from the Northern Illinois player who gouged his right eye during the No. 19 Aztecs' 34-28 victory Saturday night.

Penny said he spoke with both NIU linebacker Antonio Jones-Davis and coach Rod Carey. TV cameras picked up Jones-Davis sticking his fingers into Penny's facemask while he was at the bottom of the pile after a kickoff return.

"He said he's sorry and everything else," said Penny, the nation's second-leading rusher. "The head coach did as well. It looks like a bad play. It's high emotions. They're playing in a big game. They're playing in a big atmosphere against us. When you come in and play against a high team like us, No. 19, you're excited. Your emotions get the best of you. ... It's really no grudges I have against anybody. I get up and smile after everything. Honestly, I think it made us better."

Carey suspended Davis-Jones for the Huskies' game Saturday against Kent State.

"He was very sincere," Penny said. "He was very straightforward. The head coach was, too. I accepted it because as I see things, you go through life, life is short so you've got to accept things while you have them now. There's really no reason to hold grudges with anyone."

He added: "You wish it never happened because you don't want it to happen to any player in college football."

SDSU coach Rocky Long said Northern Illinois "has handled it really well." Long said he and Carey exchanged text messages Sunday night and Monday, and that Penny told him his conversation with Jones-Davis went well.

"I'm sure that they're good young men and they worked it out among themselves," Long said.

Penny's eye still looked swollen but he said his vision "is perfect."

"It's not as serious as it looks," he said.

After getting gouged, Penny went into the locker room to get eye drops and a visor was installed in his facemask.

Long said the Aztecs (5-0) are making Penny wear the visor as a precaution until Saturday night's game at UNLV.

"He wants to get rid of that shield as fast he can get rid of it," Long said.

"It's kind of hard to breathe when I'm wearing that stuff," Penny said.

Also Monday, Penny's record streak of winning the Mountain West Conference offensive or special teams player of the week awards ended at four. However, teammate Juwan Washington won the special teams award after returning the opening kickoff 96 yards for a score.

SDSU became the first team in league history to win a player-of-the-week award each of the first five weeks of a season. Penny won both the offensive and special teams award after a big performance in a win at Arizona State on Sept. 9.

"I said before the season I thought he was better than me at doing it," Penny said of Washington. "He's a great return guy. He does a great job of reading the blocks. I'm excited that somebody else from San Diego State got to share the wealth because it's the fifth week in a row we got one and it shows how special our team is. We have so many weapons."

Penny was held to a season-low 107 yards against NIU. He has 823 yards overall. Bryce Love leads the nation with 1,088 yards.

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Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

Updated October 2, 2017

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