Football team downs West Texas A&M 34-31

Archive Courtesy Photo/ Jeremiah Schrader
Robert Carlisle brings UMD quarterback Ted Schlafke down during the playoff game in Allendale last Saturday.

Archive Courtesy Photo/ Jeremiah Schrader Robert Carlisle brings UMD quarterback Ted Schlafke down during the playoff game in Allendale last Saturday.

Cody Eding

It was no dominating performance, but the Grand Valley State University football team passed its first test Thursday night at Lubbers Stadium.

The No. 2 Lakers needed some late heroics to overcome a halftime deficit against No. 8 West Texas A&M University, but the team prevailed 34-31 victory in Matt Mitchell’s first game as GVSU head coach.

“It was really a back and forth ball game,” Mitchell said. “The first half there, we were probably a little disappointed. We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities we had down in the red zone … Lot of credit to our kids at halftime. We could have been a little bit scrambling there on the defensive and offensive side of the ball.”

Senior quarterback Kyle McMahon’s 14-yard scamper with 8:40 to play in the fourth quarter put the Lakers up 34-24 and capped a 12-point swing for GVSU that put the Buffaloes chances for victory out of reach.

McMahon, a transfer from Eastern Michigan University, completed 17-of-32 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He also racked up 61 yards rushing and the touchdown on 17 attempts.

The turnaround, moved along by two costly interceptions from West Texas quarterback Taylor Harris, was spurred on by a pair of spectacular touchdowns by GVSU receivers.

After foiling West Texas A&M’s fourth-down quarterback sneak deep in Laker territory at the beginning of the fourth quarter, a scrambling McMahon launched the ball across his body and hit junior Jovonne Augustus between three Buffalo defenders. Augustus finished the 70-yard play in the endzone while the trio of defenders collided behind him.

“All I was thinking about when it was my opportunity to go get the ball, I was thinking about our receivers coach (Jack Ginn),” said Augustus, who finished with three catches for 107 yards. “He always says, ‘Set your feet, rebound,’ I mean rebound the football and that’s what I went up to go do.”

Still, GVSU’s failed two-point attempt following Augustus’ grab left them down 24-22.

The defense stonewalled West Texas again, and on the ensuing possession the Lakers captured the lead on junior Greg Gay’s diving, 20-yard touchdown grab across the middle of the field.

Gay’s catch did not come without sacrifice as collision with a Buffalo defender left him dazed on the field for several minutes.

Hurt by mistakes and wasted opportunities, including two missed field goals from within 40 yards, GVSU trailed 17-13 at halftime after leading 10-0 after the first quarter.

“They were in some good defenses,” McMahon said of the offense’s struggles. “We wanted to run some plays against them that would have worked in other coverage, but they showed it and would back out into another one.”

With 13:13 to play in the first half, Tommy Hampton’s 80-yard run started a string of 17 unanswered points by the West Texas offense. Kicker Sergio Castillo’s 40-yard field goal and Brittan Golden’s 11-yard catch put the Buffalos up 17-10 late in the second quarter.

GVSU drove deep into West Texas territory at the end of the first half. With less than six seconds to play, the Buffalos forced a throw away by McMahon. The clock showing zero and with West Texas A&M heading off the field, the referees placed one second left on the clock – enough time for senior Luke Briggs to punch a 24-yard field goal through the uprights.

In the first quarter, the Lakers methodically moved down the field for the first two scores of the season by using short passes and runs to efficiently chew the clock.

After stopping West Texas on its opening series, McMahon engineered an eight-play drive that resulted in a 37-yard field goal by sophomore Jay Jandasek.

GVSU cashed in with a touchdown on its next possession. Senior Justin Sherrod’s three-yard run ended a 14-play, 93-yard march by the Lakers’ offense that took over six minutes off of the clock.

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First Quarter

3:10 GV – Jay Jandasek 37-yard field goal

1:25 GV – Justin Sherrod 3-yard run (Jandasek kick)

Second Quarter

13:13 WT – Tommy Hampton 80-yard run (Sergio Castillo kick)

6:52 WT – Castillo 40-yard field goal

3:18 WT – Brittan Golden 11-yard pass from Taylor Harris (Castillo kick)

0:00 GV – Luke Briggs 24-yard field goal

Third Quarter

10:53 GV – Luke Briggs 21-yard field goal

7:09 WT – Kelvin Thompson 17-yard pass from Harris (Castillo kick)

Fourth Quarter

14:40 GV – Jovonne Augustus 70-yard pass from Kyle McMahon (Two-point conversion failed)

9:23 GV – Greg Gay 20-yard pass from McMahon (Two-point conversion failed)

8:40 GV – McMahon 14-yard run (Briggs kick failed)

1:53 WT – Kelvin Thompson 15-yard run (Castillo kick)