Jared Bernhardt Lifts Ferris State to Division II National Football Championship


Jared Bernhardt throws during a 35-28 win over Grand Valley State in October.

For the second time in his college athletics career, Jared Bernhardt is a national champion. This time, though, it’s not in the sport he played for the last four years at Maryland.

On Saturday night, Bernhardt diced through the Valdosta State defense to the tune of 148 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, leading his Ferris State Bulldogs to a 58-17 win in the Division II football national championship game. It is the first-ever D-II championship in program history.

Bernhardt won the Tewaaraton Award, honoring the nation’s top men’s lacrosse player, just six months ago. He helped carry Maryland to the national championship game, but the Terps ultimately fell in a heartbreaker to Virginia.

In the same year, though, Bernhardt got to hoist another championship trophy. He took the first offensive play of the game 56 yards for a touchdown, then scored from 5 yards away about seven minutes later.

For a moment, it seemed as if Bernhardt might have suffered a deflating injury, as he limped off the field when he lost a fumble in the first half. He returned soon after, though, and scored on another 2-yard run with 9:18 left before halftime.

Bernhardt thrived this fall in the triple-option offense, winning GLIAC Player of the Year honors. He accumulated 1,273 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on 145 carries and also completed 87 of 123 passing attempts for 1,322 yards and 11 touchdowns — though he did not attempt a pass against Valdosta State.

In winning the national title in football, Bernhardt adds to a trophy case that also includes a national championship with Maryland in 2017.

Having chosen to use his last bit of NCAA eligibility to play football, Bernhardt chose to honor his late father’s legacy. You can read more about that here from Justin Feil.

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