Call this one a tale of two kickers and how fleeting and fragile fame can be.
Let’s move back in time to last season’s Rose Bowl, where USC kicker Matt Boermeester has just made a game-winning 46 yard field goal as time expired to give the Trojans a 52-49 victory over Penn State.
Watching the game from his Newport Beach, Calif. home was a kid named Chase McGrath, the field goal kicker for Mater Dei, one of the premier prep football programs in the United States.
Fast forward the timeline to this summer. Boermeester has been expelled from USC after being involved in a title IX investigation involving his girl friend. Although Boermeester was never charged or arrested, he is out of school (on appeal) and off the USC football team.
Forced to deal with reality, USC football coach Clay Helton has to find a kicker and discovers McGrath.
McGrath, however, is a walk-on kicker, ready for his next athletic challenge, although he is still just a name on the USC depth chart.
Move the timeline to last Saturday night in the Los Angeles Coliseum, where USC is facing off against Texas in its first meeting since the epic battle to decide the national championship 12 years ago (won by Texas).
McGrath is the field goal kicker for the Trojans. The first attempt of his college career is wide from 46 yards out. But now it is crunch time, USC, trailing 17-14, has been brought back to life by QB Sam Darnold’s drive, which has set up a game-tying field goal attempt from 31 yards out.
As the clock hits 0:00, McGrath’s kick splits the uprights, tie game and overtime.
Again move the clock forward. Now it is the second overtime and the score is again tied (at 24-24). McGrath, now a veteran of two kicks, is again asked to be a hero by making a 43-yard kick. McGrath’s kick again splits the uprights, USC wins and a legend (for now) is created.
“I treat every kick the same, explained McGrath, who said the pressure of a big time moment in a big time game didn’t phase him all that much. “”I’m used to it,” he said. “”My first kick was just a learning experience. But this one (the winner) felt solid coming off my foot.”
In a locker room of celebration, McGrath was chanted with “give him a scholarship.”
“”We need to find him one,” said Helton with a laugh and a shake of his head.
A scholarship is likely to come, but for now McGrath will simply enjoy a freshman moment as TMG’s Newsmaker of The Week.