Around the Nation

2015 Division III year in review


Salisbury ended up winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference in its first season in the league, rather than conference favorite Wesley. 
Salisbury athletics photo by Paul Jacko 

SALEM – This was a year full of surprises in Division III football.

Not only did we not see a Mount Union/UW-Whitewater Stagg Bowl, but there were a handful of significant upsets in the regular season that affected how the brackets would be aligned.

UW-Whitewater saw its streak of 26 regular-season wins broken by UW-Oshkosh in a 10-7 defensive battle, while Hardin-Simmons got the best of its in-state and American Southwest Conference rival, Mary Hardin-Baylor, for the first time since 2004.

Both UW-W and UMHB, however, avenged their regular-season losses with wins in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, Salisbury beat its Route 13 rival, Wesley, for the first time in more than a decade, upending the trajectory of the realigned NJAC. Perhaps most notably was that Salisbury’s win came just a week after the Gulls lost to Christopher Newport, a team that struggled to a 4-5 conference record in its first NJAC season.

Conferences such as the IIAC, LL, MAC and SAA also ended the year with new faces at the top of the heap, helping to keep us on our toes throughout the various turns of the season. Plus, the Empire 8 was competitive all season, with Cortland eventually coming out on top in its first season in the conference.

It was also exciting to see what corners of the nation that new records would emerge. Among the highlights:

  • Gagliardi Trophy winner Joe Callahan of Wesley became the first Division III quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season.
  • Kwame Do of Occidental set a SCIAC record with 4,133 rushing yards.
  • Ripon’s Ron Ernst set a MWC record for most career victories with 160.
  • Gagliardi Trophy finalist Matt Pawlowski passed for an ODAC-record 611 yards against Catholic on Oct. 31.

Those are some of the national anc conference records set this season. The team records and outstanding performances are almost too numerous to note. If there are ones that you want to highlight, please use the comments section below.

How my ballots shaped up

The nature of college football is how our perceptions change over the season. Teams rise and fall as injuries, nonconference games, conference alignments and other things take their toll. To give you a snapshot of my thinking start to finish, I’m sharing my preseason poll, my ballot at the end of the regular season and my...

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Columnist

Ryan Tipps

Ryan is D3football.com's Senior Editor and began as National Columnist in fall 2014. He was the Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist from 2007 to 2011, has worked on the preseason Kickoff publication since 2006 and has covered the Stagg Bowl in Salem for more than a decade. Ryan, a Wabash graduate, worked in newspapers as a writer and editor for 15 years before his current full-time job as editor of a magazine in Virginia.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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