By Grant Abston, Sports Editor
After coming up short a season ago, running back Bernard Scott aimed to leave no doubt in voters’ minds to whom deserved the Harlon Hill Trophy this season. And it worked, as Scott became the 19th player to win the award on Dec. 12 at the 23rd annual awards dinner at the Florence Convention Center.
Scott became the first ACU player to win the Harlon Hill, Division II’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, earning 253 votes to beat out Central Washington’s Mike Reilly and North Alabama’s A.J. Milwee, both quarterbacks. Scott’s 253 points were the third-highest point total in the history of the award, while Reilly and Milwee tied for second with 85 votes.
“It felt good to win the award and realize all the hard work paid off and I was just proud to be in that situation and proud that coach [Thomsen] and my dad came out and supported me,” Scott said. “It was a good feeling.”
After finishing runner-up to two-time winner Danny Woodhead of Chadron State in 2007, Scott became the fifth player to win the award the following season. Scott also became just the second player in LSC history to win the award, joining Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Johnny Bailey, who won the award three years in a row (1987-89).
“I just think he came back from some situations that he put himself through and fought his way back onto the field three years ago at Blinn [College],” Thomsen said. “It meant a great deal to him and having to come back and get a second chance at doing something on the field, and he did it, so I think it meant an awful lot to him.”
Scott rushed for 2,156 yards this season, which ranked second all-time in LSC and ACU history behind his 2,165 yards in 2007. Scott also scored 28 rushing touchdowns while catching 47 passes for 826 yards and six touchdowns. He led Division II in points per game (17.0) and all-purpose yards (256.8) and was second nationally in rushing, averaging 179.7 yards a game. In his two seasons at ACU, Scott helped rewrite the record books. His 4,321 rushing yards are an ACU record, and he became the only player in LSC history to have multiple 2,000-yard rushing seasons. His 63 rushing touchdowns are second in ACU history, and he ranks second in ACU and LSC history with 73 total touchdowns.
While ending his ACU career with many awards and highlights, Scott’s most memorable performance might have come against West Texas A&M in the Wildcats’ playoff game Nov. 22. Scott rushed for 292 yards and six touchdowns while catching three passes for 61 yards and one touchdown as ACU won 93-68. Scott’s six rushing touchdowns, seven total touchdowns and 42 points were all NCAA Division II playoff, NCAA Division II, LSC and ACU single-game records, as ACU set the NCAA Division II record for most combined points in regulation with 161 and earned a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“We haven’t had anyone that makes an impact on a football game more than he does,” Thomsen said. “We have had some really gifted players like Johnny [Knox], Billy [Malone] and [Danieal] Manning, but he’s the guy that has had the biggest impact on games for us, and that says a lot.”
After winning the Harlon Hill Trophy, Scott signed with agent Scott Casterline and moved back to Dallas to begin preparing for the NFL. Scott will play in the Texas vs. Nation all-star game Jan. 31 in El Paso and will look for an invitation to the NFL Scouting combine in February.
“Right now I’m just working out six days a week, boxing and conditioning before the all-star game on Jan. 31,” Scott said. “I’m just getting ready for the combine and working hard and hopefully I will get a chance to play ball and make a roster.”