McMahon shines next to Harlon Hill counterpart
Senior quarterback accounts for five touchdowns in playoff win
Kyle McMahon may have been the forgotten quarterback Saturday with Harlon Hill Trophy finalist Clay Garcia under center for the Colorado School of Mines, but by the end of the game it was McMahon who looked the part of the nation’s top player.
Grand Valley State University’s senior signal-caller passed for three touchdowns, rushed for two more scores and involved himself in all aspects of the offense as the Lakers rolled to a 35-13 victory in the opening game of NCAA Division II playoffs.
Behind a strong performance by GVSU’s offensive line, McMahon set the tone early in the game with his mobility. His pair of rushing touchdowns and 28 yards on 14 carries afforded the Lakers a 14-0 halftime lead. While McMahon finished with just 22 rushing yards due to three sacks, his 18 rushing attempts were a single-game team high for the season.
“I don’t like being one-dimensional and just sitting in the pocket directing traffic all the time,” McMahon said. “I just love playing football, maybe delivering some shots and seeing what I can do with the ball in my hands.”
Early in the second quarter McMahon showed off his kicking abilities with a 34-yard pooch punt that was downed at the Mines’ 10-yard line, a skill GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell said his quarterback has been bugging him to use.
“He thinks he’s a super athlete and can do a lot of things, so we messed around after practice a little bit, and he can kind of punt it,” Mitchell said jokingly.
Both McMahon and Garcia battled intense pressure in the pocket all game, but the Harlon Hill candidate failed to find his rhythm. Owing to GVSU’s 10 sacks – a total that tied a single-game record for the Lakers – McMahon said he did not envy his counterpart while watching the carnage from the sidelines.
“We were bringing a lot people, and I just thought, ‘Man, it would’ve been tough to play quarterback on that play,’” he said. “It’s tough. They were getting some good shots on me, and I’m sure it was the same in his case, but you just got to get up and play, pretend it didn’t happen, think that you’re going to be untouched on the next one and deliver the ball where it needs to go.”
McMahon felt pressure with Mines defensive lineman Marc Schiechl, the all-time sacks leader in Division II, and the rest of an impressive defense threatening to invade his pocket. However, McMahon was able to evade the pursuit more than once and avoided Schiechl on a play-action call that set up a first-down completion to senior wide receiver Ryan Bass.
“With a quarterback like Kyle, it’s important to stay alive because you never know when a play is going to be over,” said Bass. “He is obviously very fast for a quarterback, and I think that’s a huge advantage for our team.”
As busy as he was moving the ball around the field, McMahon also found opportunities to help his teammates in less conventional ways. Never one to shy away from contact, McMahon flattened Mines defensive back Bunmi Adetutu while blocking for senior running back Justin Sherrod. McMahon admitted the smash-mouth display surprised him as much as it might have startled Adetutu.
“That just goes to show that everyone is committed to running the ball because we know that if we can run the ball, we can do more things on offense,” he added.