Johnnies roll in record fashion; Rematches repeat

Markeith Miller breaks past a Hardin-Simmons defender. (Photo by Joe Fusco,
Markeith Miller breaks past a Hardin-Simmons defender. He finished with a conference record in rushing TDs.
Photo by Joe Fusco,

Mary Hardin-Baylor, St. John's and Berry all advanced easily in the top-left corner of the bracket in the first round of the 2018 Division III football playoffs, while Whitworth rolled past Claremont-Mudd-Scripps as well in the final game of the afternoon.


The past decade of playoffs

Here's how Division III conferences have performed in the playoffs over the past 10 postseasons, from 2009 through the first round of 2018:

  Conference W L Pct.  
  WIAC 44 9 .830  
  OAC 46 13 .780  
  Independents 16 7 .696  
  MIAC 30 15 .667  
  ASC 26 15 .634  
  NWC 18 12 .600  
  E8 17 12 .586  
  CCIW 17 15 .531  
  MAC 12 12 .500  
  NJAC 13 13 .500  
  Centennial 8 10 .444  
  NCAC 10 13 .435  
  SAA 3 4 .429  
  LL 6 9 .400  
  IIAC 7 12 .368  
  PAC 6 12 .333  
  HCAC 3 10 .231  
  MIAA 3 10 .231  
  SCAC 1 4 .200  
  USAC 2 10 .167  
  MWC 2 10 .167  
  ODAC 2 10 .167  
  NEFC/CCC 2 12 .143  
  ECFC 1 9 .100  
  NEWMAC 0 2 .000  
  UAA 0 2 .000  
  MASCAC 0 4 .000  
  UMAC 0 8 .000  
  NACC 0 10 .000  
  SCIAC 0 11 .000  

UMHB's second game of the season against conference rival Hardin-Simmons didn't look significantly different than the first meeting, as the Cru intercepted four passes and won 27-6 despite just 237 yards of total offense and only running 47 plays on offense. With the score 7-0 and Hardin-Simmons on the UMHB 8-yard line, Reggie Cole picked off Ty Hooper and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown to put the Cru up 14-0. Jase Hammack hit Aaron Sims for a 58-yard touchdown to provide the big play of the second half. Markeith Miller ran for 110 yards and a touchdown, becoming the second player in Cru history to go over 4,000 yards in career rushing, and broke the American Southwest Conference record with his 58th career rushing score.

Similarly, Berry's rematch with Maryville didn't look that different, either. The Vikings shut down the Scots' offense and shut them out in a 31-0 win. Ten players registered a total of 11 tackles for loss and seven of them contributed to six sacks as the Vikings allowed just 116 yards of total offense. Joey Connors ran for two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass from Heath Burchfield in the win.

Now, those were the relatively competitive games of the bracket. In Collegeville, Minnesota, St. John's scored 42 in the first quarter and another 42 in the final three in rolling past Martin Luther 84-6. St. John's broke its own NCAA record for the most points scored in a Division III playoff game. They set the previous mark in a 75-2 win against Coe in 1991.

Jackson Erdmann was 19-for-25 passing for 289 yards and six touchdowns, all of them in the first half. Five players combined for six rushing touchdowns for the Johnnies, who had 12 players register carries, even with only being allowed to dress 58 players in a postseason game. Zach Bloomquist was 10-for-20 passing for Martin Luther, which was playing in its first-ever Division III playoff game.

In the west coast matchup, Leif Ericksen completed 27 of 42 passes for three touchdowns as Whitworth scored the final 48 points of the game in a 48-6 win. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps got on the board first with a 54-yard drive resulting in a Zach Fogel run for a touchdown. But without Jake Norville or Garrett Cheadle in the backfield, the Stags were unable to control the clock as desired and Whitworth took the lead, then pulled away in the final 35 minutes. Whitworth will be making the trip to St. John's for a second-round matchup next Saturday.