From the ACU Sports Information Department
FLORENCE, Ala. – ACU running back Bernard Scott’s goal before the 2008 season was to be in northern Alabama in mid-December to pick up two trophies: a Harlon Hill as the nation’s top player and the NCAA Division II national championship trophy.
And while his and the Wildcats’ goal of winning the national championship was put to an end in the quarterfinal round by Northwest Missouri State, Scott’s goal of winning the Harlon Hill Trophy was realized Friday night when he was named the 19th winner of the award at the 23rd annual awards dinner at the Florence Convention Center.
Scott beat out a pair of record-setting quarterbacks in Central Washington’s Mike Reilly and North Alabama’s A.J. Milwee. The three finalists in 2008 made up one of the most-decorated and most talented trios of finalists in the award’s history. Scott had a 168 point margin of victory in the voting with 253 points. Reilly and Milwee tied for second with 85 apiece. The 253 points is the third-highest point total in the history of the award.
Scott is the fifth player in the award’s history to win the trophy the year after finishing as the runner-up. Former Texas A&M-Kingsville great Johnny Bailey finished as the runner-up for the first trophy in 1986 and then won the award three straight years. Emporia State running back Brian Shay finished second in 1997 before winning the award in 1998. Northern Colorado quarterback Corte McGuffey finished second to Shay in 1998 before taking home the trophy in 1999, and Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes finished second in 2001 before he won the award in 2002.
Scott – last year’s runner-up to two-time winner Danny Woodhead of Chadron State (Neb.) – became the first ACU player to win the award, which is the NCAA Division II version of the Heisman Trophy. Scott is only the second Lone Star Conference player to ever win the award, joining Bailey (winner from 1987-89) on the short list.
“None of the things I’ve been able to accomplish would have happened without the play of great teammates,” Scott said. “I’ve been blessed to run behind the best offensive line in Division II football the last two seasons, and I want to thank them for the job they’ve done. Our offense has been blessed to be led by a great quarterback, and we’ve had great receivers. All of those guys have done their job, and that’s allowed me to do my job.
“When I was here last year I said that my goal this year was to get back here for this ceremony and to play in the national championship game,” he continued. “Our team put together a great 2008 season, but we fell just short of our goal of playing for the national championship. Still, the things we accomplished together this season will provide lifelong memories for all of us, and a piece of this award goes to each one of my teammates.
”In just two seasons as a Wildcat, Scott rushed for 4,321 to become the school’s all-time career rushing leader. He topped the 2,000-yard mark twice, becoming the only player in LSC history to put together multiple 2,000-yard rushing seasons. His 63 rushing touchdowns are second in ACU history, and his 73 total touchdowns are second in both ACU and LSC history.
This season he rushed for 2,156 yards (second in LSC and ACU single-season history behind his 2,165 yards in 2007) and 28 touchdowns and caught 47 passes for 826 yards and another six touchdowns. He led NCAA Division II in points per game (17.0) and all-purpose yards (256.8 yards per game) and was second in rushing, averaging 179.7 yards per game.
He led ACU to an 11-1 record, the program’s first outright Lone Star Conference championship since 1973, the program’s highest-ever NCAA Division II national ranking (No. 2) and to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Scott averaged 8.4 yards per carry and rushed for more than 200 yards in four of the Wildcats’ final six games of the 2008 season. Scott ran for at least 100 yards in his last 17 games dating back to the 2007 season.
Scott was at his best in the big games as he helped ACU to an 8-3 record against top-25 opponents over the last two seasons. In those 11 games he rushed for 2,277 yards (207.0 per game), scored 38 rushing touchdowns and caught four touchdown passes while posting 631 receiving yards (57.4 per game).
He made his case for this year’s Harlon Hill Trophy in two games against West Texas A&M when he shredded the Buffaloes’ defense in leading the Wildcats to a pair of wins. In a 52-35 win over the Buffs in Canyon on Oct. 18, Scott rushed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and caught seven passes for 141 yards and one touchdown to set an LSC and ACU single-game record with 409 all-purpose yards.
In the Wildcats’ wild 93-68 NCAA Division II second-round playoff win over the Buffs on Nov. 22, Scott rushed for 292 yards and six touchdowns and caught three passes for 61 yards and one touchdown. His six rushing touchdowns, seven total touchdowns and 42 total points were all NCAA Division II Playoff, NCAA Division II, LSC and ACU single-game records.