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Mines football QB Matocha wins Harlon Hill Award as D-II MVP

John Matocha was announced as the recipient of the Harlon Hill Award given to D-II's most outstanding player.

MCKINNEY, Texas — In the end, there was no doubt about who NCAA Division II's best football player was in 2022.

Hours before the national championship game kicks off, Colorado School of Mines quarterback John Matocha was announced as the recipient of the Harlon Hill Award given to D-II's most outstanding player, recognizing an unforgettable 2022 season which has not yet had its final chapter written.

It marks the pinnacle in a stack of individual awards for Matocha, who has led his Orediggers (13-2) team to the national final for the first time. Mines will play Ferris State Saturday at noon in McKinney, Texas.

Matocha is the third Oredigger winner joining Chad Friehauf (2004) and Justin Dvorak (2016), making Mines the first and only program in Division II to have three different recipients. He watched Friday night's announcement ceremony live at the team's hotel in McKinney along with his teammates, family, and fans.

Matocha's list of accolades in 2022 is extensive. Named the D2CCA Ron Lenz National Offensive Player of the Year and both D2CCA and Associated Press First-Team All-America on Wednesday, Matocha has also been recognized as the Offensive Player of the Year by the RMAC, the National Football Foundation Colorado, and in Super Region 4 by the D2CCA. He has thrown for 4,570 yards and a national-best 50 touchdowns while also rushing for 465 yards and five scores. Matocha ranks atop D-II in passing touchdowns, efficiency, and points responsible for, #2 in passing yards, and #3 in completion percentage.

Matocha ended the regular season clearly in contention for the Harlon Hill, but cemented his status as the frontrunner with an extraordinary postseason. In four games, Matocha has accounted for 21 total touchdowns, more than double any other player in this year's NCAA Division II tournament, while averaging 288.8 yards passing, 62.8 yards rushing, and five or more total touchdowns produced in all four rounds. He had a star-making performance with six total touchdowns in the Super Region 4 final at Angelo State, rushing for two and passing for four, then outdueled 2021 winner Tyson Bagent in the national semifinal on national television, throwing for 371 yards on 28-of-34 passing and producing five touchdowns in the process.

Ferris State defensive end Caleb Murphy finished second in the voting; it will mark the seventh time since 1988 that the top two finishers for the Harlon Hill meet in the national championship game. Six previous winners have led their team to the title. Matocha earned 178 points in the national vote including 37 first-place nods, winning over Murphy (117) and Shepherd's Bagent (108)).

The Hill Award is named for the late Harlon Hill, the former University of North Alabama standout who excelled with the Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. The award is presented by the Great American Conference and Little Rock Touchdown Club, and Matocha will be presented with the trophy on January 13 at the LRTC's annual banquet.  


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