Backup quarterback leads DeWitt to victory
St. Johns – Few outside the DeWitt football program knew who Chase McPhee was or if he even played football let alone quarterback.
Well, when your best player is a Mr. Football candidate and plays quarterback nobody notices the backup.
They paid attention on Friday. Jacob Johnson suffered a concussion last week and McPhee, a junior, got the start at quarterback, his first since his freshman season on the freshmen team and he came through in a big way
McPhee scored the winning touchdown with 3:14 remaining as DeWitt (6-0, 4-0) came back from a 10-0 deficit to defeat host St. Johns (5-1, 3-1) 16-10 to clinch the Capital Area Conference Red Division title.
“It’s amazing,” McPhee said. “It’s the best experience I’ve had as a quarterback. On Monday, we didn’t know if Johnson would play or not. I was very nervous. Running the ball, that’s when you stop being nervous. Getting hit.
“Those were some big shoes to fill. He’s a Division I quarterback (Johnson committed to Central Michigan). It wasn’t as good as what he could do but we got the job done, my teammates and I. We knew this was going to be one of the toughest games of the season. It’s insane.”
It didn’t start well for McPhee. His first pass was intercepted and on the next play Blake Stewart scored on an 87-yard touchdown run to give St. Johns a 10-0 with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
McPhee didn’t get down on himself after that. He remembered what Johnson told him during the week.
“Jake told me to keep my composure,” McPhee said. “He said that first pass would be tough.”
McPhee rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries and completed 5-of-7 attempts for 77 yards including one huge completion on fourth down on the winning drive.
Trailing 10-9, DeWitt faced a fourth-and-9 on St. Johns’ 24 when McPhee completed a 16-yard pass to Evan Conn in the right flat. On the next play McPhee’s 8-yard touchdown run capped a 10-play, 84-yard drive.
“We ran a lot of option plays, which they hadn’t seen,” DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman said. “We put it in Chase’s hands. He had to make plays for us to win. We couldn’t give (Ben) Heinritz (23 carries, 105 yards) all the time.
“All week long Chase was cool and calm. He kept his composure after that pick. I talked Xs and Os to him but I didn’t need to talk to him about his emotions.“
Its possible McPhee will get start No. 2 next Friday at home against Owosso. Johnson might not be ready and, after this game, McPhee definitely will be.