Linfield's seniors hoist the Walnut and
Photo by Ryan Coleman, D3football.com
Linfield exorcised the
demons of the disappointing end to its 2000, 2001, 2002 and
2003 seasons, taking it all the way to the national championship
and defeating Mary Hardin-Baylor 28-21.
Kelly Bertrand, playing on one ACL, came up with the big play on defense to sack Josh Welch and give Linfield its first Division III football national title, 28-21 over Mary Hardin-Baylor.
"I think all week we knew it was going to come down to us," Bertrand said. "Watching them on film they were one of the most physical, the best team we were going to face all season." Bertrand broke through, along with Brandon Tom, for the sack on Welch on fourth-and-4, ending the Crusaders' last-minute drive.
The win gives hope to the rest of Division III, says Keith McMillan, making the national title appear attainable to those other than the Mount Unions of the world.
Linfield and Mary Hardin-Baylor traded blows early in the first quarter and late in the second before a scoreless third quarter left the game 21-13 entering the fourth.
Check out our photo galleries from Salem, with photos from Thursday, Friday and game day. Or for a playoff recap, here's our team-by-team capsules and the 2004 All-America team.
For those of you who have missed our coverage from the week running up to Salem, check out Around the Nation, which talks to the only head coach to face both Linfield and Mary Hardin-Baylor this season; Around the West, which talks to the Wildcats' emotional leader; and our Feature on UMHB receiver P.J. Williams.
First round, Nov. 20
at UW-La Crosse 37, St. Norbert 23
at Occidental 28, Willamette 14
at Concordia-Moorhead 28, Wartburg 14
at Hobart 35, Curry 16
at St. John Fisher 31, Muhlenberg 3
at Delaware Valley 21, Shenandoah 17
Mary Hardin-Baylor 32, at Trinity (Texas) 13
Christopher Newport 35, at Salisbury 23
at Washington and Jefferson 55, Bridgewater (Va.) 48 (2 OT)
at Wheaton 31, Mt. St. Joseph 7
Carthage 31, at Alma 28
at Wooster 41, Aurora 34
Second round, Nov. 27
at Linfield 52, UW-La Crosse 14
Occidental 42, Concordia-Moorhead 40, at Fargo, N.D.
at Rowan 45, Hobart 14
at Delaware Valley 26, St. John Fisher 20
Mary Hardin-Baylor 42, at Hardin-Simmons 28
at Washington and Jefferson 24, Christopher Newport 14
at Mount Union 23, Wheaton 6
Carthage 14, at Wooster 7
Quarterfinals, Dec. 4
at Linfield 56, Occidental 27
at Rowan 56, Delaware Valley 7
Mary Hardin-Baylor 52, at Washington and Jefferson 16
at Mount Union 38, Carthage 20
Semifinals, Dec. 11
at Linfield 52, Rowan 0
Mary Hardin-Baylor 38, at Mount Union 35
Championship, Dec. 18
Linfield 28, Mary Hardin-Baylor 21, at Salem, Va.