Morrison freshman kicker Josh McDearmon kicks game winner to stun No. 1 Princeton

Mustangs take down Class 3A’s No. 1-ranked team

Freshman Josh McDearmon kicks the game-winning field to lift Morrison to a 22-21 win over No. 1 ranked Princeton.

On a night when a full moon rose over Bryant Field, a freshman placekicker who had never played football before won the game for Morrison.

Freshman Josh McDearmon kicked a 27-yard field goal in the final seconds to lift the Mustangs to a 22-21 upset win over Associated Press Class 3A No. 1-ranked Princeton.

It was the last thing McDearmon, who was a soccer player by trade, ever thought he’d do when he woke up Friday morning. He was such an obscure pregame factor, his name was not listed in the Morrison roster.

“No, not at all,” said McDearmon, who spent the last four years playing soccer. “It was a lot of pressure, I guess. I just had to set my goal on making that one field goal.”

Josh McDearmon

Morrison coach Nathan Vandermyde knew his team would be up for the challenge to play the No. 1-ranked Tigers.

“We knew coming in they were a quality opponent,” he said. “They had guys in every single spot, but I had faith in my guys and I told them all week, ‘We can make some noise. We can do something.’”

“I want them to enjoy this tonight and then get ready to work on next week. Just a stepping stone to where we want to go.”

“I had faith in my guys and I told them all week, ‘We can make some noise. We can do something.”

—  Nathan Vandermyde

The Tigers (1-1) took a 21-19 lead with 45 seconds left when junior quarterback Will Lott led them to paydirt with two passes, including a 30-yard scoring strike to classmate Noah LaPorte with just 45 seconds left. Carlos Benavidez added the PAT.

Princeton coach Ryan Pearson said Lott had a “gutsy play sticking in the pocket” on the touchdown pass.

Chase Newman took over for quarterback Colton Bielema, who left with a cramp, and promptly threw a 30-yard pass to Daeshaun McQueen to put the Mustangs in striking range at the Princeton 10 with eight seconds left.

“Knew we had to take a shot, 16 seconds left. My goodness, I’m glad the shot work,” Vandermyde said.

That’s when Vandermyde turned to his freshman, McDearmon, to win the game, even though he had never seen him in a game situation before.

“We didn’t get a chance to get a good look at him last week with the heat because we were inside like everybody else across the state,” Vanderhyde said. “We pushed it back a week, but yeah, he came out. He’s been playing soccer the past couple years. (We thought) absolutely, throw him in.

“I can’t say it was in the game plan to go down and kick a game-winning field goal, but I called a timeout and brought him and said, ‘Hey, you got it?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ Perfect, put him out there and he drilled it.”

It was a tough loss for Princeton just two days after earning the No. 1 ranking in 3A. Three interceptions and eight penalties for 90 yards, including a pass interference, proved too costly to overcome.

“We go through the same script every week. When we came out, we weren’t running the plays we were supposed to be running,” Pearson said. “When you’ve got the target on the back, you’re going to get the absolute best from every single team you play. Unfortunately, we saw what happens when we don’t play our best game.”

“Too many penalties, execution errors. I’m not sure who were tonight.”

Princeton's Ace Christiansen races for a run against Morrison Friday night at Bryant Field.

Bielema lifted the Mustangs to a 13-0 lead on a pair of TD passes. He connected for a 19-yard score to Newman with 4:50 left in the first quarter and a 58-yard strike to Brady Thompson on the first play of the second quarter.

The Tigers got one score back on an 1-yard touchdown run by Ace Christiansen to pull within 13-7 at the half.

Casey Etheridge, who scored four touchdowns in last week’s season-opening win at Monmouth-Roseville, capped a nine-play, 47-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard run to give the Tigers their first lead of the night at 14-13 with 6:52 left in the third quarter.

After a pass interference on Princeton sent the Mustangs to the Tigers’ 36, Bielema followed with a touchdown pass on the next play to regain a 19-14 lead with 5:30 left to play in the game.

“It seemed like the bounces didn’t go our way. Bottom line, we just didn’t play our best game tonight,” Pearson said. “Hats off to Morrison. They came over here and played a heck of a football game. I felt like they deserved to win tonight.”

Morrison won the first meeting against Princeton in 1945, 7-6, and now the last one with the Mustangs, leaving the Three Rivers next year for the NUIC. The Tigers hold an 8-4 series edge.

Princeton's Noah LaPorte snags a 30-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 21-19 lead with 45 seconds left Friday night.