With one game left in the regular season, Mercer football holds a 9-2 record after facing Jacksonville and Marist University.
On Nov. 9, the crowd went wild as the Bears defeated Jacksonville 45-42, giving them their ninth win of the season and a perfect record at home.
“I never thought Mercer football would be this big and have so much support,” Defensive lineman, Tyler Ward said. “We, as a team, have learned how good we actually are, and what hard work can do for a team full of freshmen.”
Both teams struggled to keep the lead throughout the entire first half of the game. However, Jacksonville jumped ahead on the board 28-21 to give the Dolphins the advantage going into halftime.
After a 26-yard field goal by Tyler Zielenske early in the second half, the Bears began to close the gap, 28-24.
With 9:21 left in the third quarter, Jacksonville’s Adrian Riley scored an 18-yard touchdown pass to push the Dolphins back ahead 35-24.
Mercer stayed on the Dolphins’ tails and responded with an 80-yard drive by JeTarii Donald to catch up and make the score 35-31.
The Bears finally regained the lead in the fourth quarter after an 18-yard touchdown pass from John Russ to John Jones, making the score 38-35.
Mercer pushed further ahead with a 33-yard touchdown pass to JT Palmer to give the Bears a 45-35 lead over Jacksonville.
One more touchdown by Jacksonville late in the game made the score 45-42. With only 2:40 left in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville was unable to catch the Bears, giving Mercer the victory.
Russ went 11-for-23 through the air for 217 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 145 yards and two scores on the ground to give him his best collegiate performance yet.
Lendell Arnold led Mercer’s defense with 10 solo tackles and three assisted tackles, while Tyler Ward and Mike Gray each had nine tackles.
Mercer suffered a 33-7 defeat after battling Marist University in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., giving the Bears their second loss of the season.
The Bears and the Red Foxes were neck to neck during the first part of the game, going into the second quarter with a 7-7 score.
It was not until late in the second that Marist took a 13-7 lead over Mercer.
Mercer only allowed one more Fox touchdown in the first half. However, they were unable to get back on the board, going into halftime with a 20-7 score.
The Bears battled through the rest of the game, but after a season high of six turnovers in the game, their one touchdown from Robert Brown was not enough to compensate for Marist’s total of five.
“Our goal is always to get better,” Tripp Patterson said. “From week to week, the team does all that we can to improve. We have Stetson on Saturday, and it’s just another opportunity to grow as a team, finish strong and prepare for next year.”
Mercer will face off in their final game against Stetson on Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. for their first homecoming football game in 72 years.