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Mustangs run away from Tigers

Princeton’s Ryan Grieff stretches above the crowd to haul in a catch at the 5-yard line as time ran out in the first half Saturday at Morrison.
Princeton’s Ryan Grieff stretches above the crowd to haul in a catch at the 5-yard line as time ran out in the first half Saturday at Morrison.

MORRISON — The Morrison Mustangs scored the very first time they touched the ball when play resumed Saturday morning against the visiting Princeton Tigers. And they never stopped.

The Mustangs scored four more touchdowns, galloping away to a 46-0 victory in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference crossover contest and finished with a running clock for the entirety of the fourth quarter.

With Friday’s action delayed about 9 p.m., and the Mustangs leading 8-0 with 6:59 left in the first quarter, Morrison coach Cory Bielema had about 14 hours to ponder, or maybe dream about what play he would call on first Saturday morning. He said he probably changed it about 14 times.

It worked just the way he dreamed it up with Morrison junior running back Mason Sitzmore taking a pitch and running in for the 17-yard score. The conversion run made it 16-0.

“The coaches were teasing me because I made mention I was trying to come up with that perfect play for that third and 17,” he said. “I kind knew if we could get the ball in the end zone on that series right there after the travel and what Princeton had to do, it would take some wind out of their sails.”

Turnovers, as much as the Mustangs, took that wind out of the Tigers’ sails. The Tigers committed eight turnovers, including six lost fumbles and two interceptions. They turned the ball over in the first four possessions Saturday and six of their nine possessions. The turnovers came at most unfortunate times.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Reinhardt connected with classmate Jett Wedekind for a 65-yard pass reception on the Tigers’ third play from scrimmage Saturday, but the Tigers fumbled two plays later at the Mustangs’ 3-yard line, and Morrison took over.

Quarterback Caleb Dickens also fumbled on the last play of the game from the 3-yard line following J.J. Vaccaro’s 48-yard run down the left sidelines.

“We’ve got a real issue with holding on to the ball. You can’t be successful on offense if you can’t hold on to the ball,” PHS coach Jesse Snyder said. “We’re definitely going to address it in all our individual drills and team drills. We’ll have to make sure we’re really getting on top of our high-and-tight drills with our running backs and exchanges from quarterbacks to running backs.”

The Mustangs lined up with many players seeing their first varsity action, but they played like veterans. Junior running back Andy Bird and sophomore quarterback Joey Brackenmyer combined for five total touchdowns.

“We came out hot last night, scored on them in four plays, and we were ready to go,” Brackenmyer said. “And then that lightning [delay] hit, and I felt like it was going to slow us down, but we just came out with the same intensity as we did the night before.”

“I wondered how they react when the lights came on,” Bielema said. “I liked what I saw. The younger kids weren’t intimidated by the moment at all. They came out and played well.”

The game between the Tigers and Mustangs was their first meeting since 1973. Princeton joined the Three Rivers this year as part of the league expansion. Those first-time meetings are not always easy to prepare for Bielema said.

“Having a week 1 game against a team you’ve seen played before is a little nerve-wrecking coaching wise,” he said. “I tried to get some film on them from last year. I expected them to do some things they’ve never done before, likewise we showed some different things from what we’ve done in the past. I think Princeton, Orion, Rockridge and Sherrard are going to be great additions to the conference.”

Tiger tales: The PHS team bus broke down at Morrison leaving the players to hitch rides with their parents while the coaching staff stayed behind waiting for repairs. Princeton will make its home debut Friday, welcoming Sterling Newman to town for another TRAC crossover. Newman fell to Rockridge 21-0 on Saturday. The Kittens won the sophomore contest 22-0, which was completed Friday before the lightning delay.

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