Mars Hill RB Randolph wins Harlon Hill Trophy

Mars Hill College running back Jonas Randolph won the Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II’s top player Friday night, two days after celebrating the birth of his son.

Hill received the award on the eve of the national championship game after leading all NCAA divisions with a 197-yard rushing average. He collected 120 points in balloting by Division II sports information directors for a three-point edge over Washburn (Kan.) University’ quarterback Dane Simoneau. It’s the slimmest winning margin in the award’s 26-year history.

Delta State quarterback Micah Davis was third with 101 points.

It was far from the biggest occasion of Randolph’s week.

His girlfriend, Jackie Bennison, gave birth to their son Braylen on Wednesday. He checked in with her after his first-ever flight landed in Atlanta to see how she was doing.

”She replied, `I think my water broke,”’ said Randolph, who quickly jumped on his second-ever flight and got back in time for Braylen’s birth.

The week was capped with another success.

”It’s flattering just to be here, to have this moment with the other two guys,” Randolph said. ”I love the game. I’m so proud that I won this.

”Being young and winning the 40-yard dash and getting a medal, I thought that was great, but this is a million times better.”

A senior who once played high school ball in Daleville, Ala., Randolph led Mars Hill to its first postseason game as a Division II member. His 5,608 career rushing yards is a South Atlantic Conference record.

He rushed for school and league single-season marks of 2,170 yards as a senior.

Ten players received at least one first-place vote and Randolph got 19, three more than Davis and four more than Simoneau.

Simoneau set eight Washburn records this season while passing for 4,089 yards with 38 touchdowns.

Davis led Delta State into the national semifinals after throwing for 3,423 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for another 13 scores. He directed four fourth-quarter comebacks.

The award is named after former North Alabama and Chicago Bears players Harlon Hill.