Mercer football defeated Valparaiso and Carnegie Mellon to add two more wins to their season, giving them a 6-1 record. The Bears remain undefeated on home grounds.
On Oct. 12, Mercer conquered the Valparaiso Crusaders 35-21.
Linebacker Andrew Layson is proud of the outcome so far this season. “I feel like we have surprised everyone around us,” Layson said. “We knew in the locker room what we were capable of, now we have to finish the season strong and take it week by week and try to win our conference and continue to shock the people who doubt us.”
The Bears and the Crusaders were neck-to-neck during the opening half of the game, battling to keep the lead.
After John Russ’ 25-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brown, Mercer finally jumped ahead 21-14 just before halftime.
It wasn’t until the second half that the Bears clawed their way up on the scoreboard.
Highlighted by a 41-yard run by Payton Usher, Russ scored on a five-yard keeper, giving him his fourth touchdown of the game and pushing the Bears ahead 28-14.
With 9:36 left in the fourth quarter, JeTarri Donald capped off a nine-play, 92-yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown run to give Mercer a 35-14 lead on Valpo.
Less than two minutes after Mercer’s 21-point lead, the Crusaders responded with a 65-yard touchdown for their last points of the game to make the score 35-21.
The Bears’ defense did its job to hold Valparaiso scoreless for the remainder of the game, giving Mercer the win.
Russ went 9-for-17 through the air for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He added 100 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground.
Brown led Mercer’s receivers with four catches for 54 yards and one score.
Tyler Ward recorded 11 tackles and one sack, while Devin Davidson added in seven tackles and Corey Lockett added six.
Mercer received another win after facing off against Carnegie Mellon on Oct. 19.
The Bears defeated the Tartans with a final score of 54-21, giving them their sixth consecutive win at home.
Mercer gained the lead early in the game, rolling out of the first half 33-7.
Michael Haynes capped a nine-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown run to give Mercer a 40-7 lead in the third quarter.
Jabari Scruggs added another score to the board after a 66-yard touchdown run to make the score 47-7.
Only allowing Carnegie Mellon two more touchdowns late in the game, Mercer pulled out a 54-21 win over the Tartans after a two-yard touchdown run by Caleb Brown to cap the score.
In the contest against Carnegie Mellon, Russ went 7-for-13 for 126 yards and two passing touchdowns, while Usher led the run game once again with 115 yards and one score.
Palmer marked a career high with his five catches, while his two touchdown receptions were the most since the season opener.
The team remains optimistic for the remaining season. “It’s going to be a tough road ahead of us with these last five games,“ Mercer’s defensive end, Hank Avery said. “As long as everyone finishes the drill and does their job, we will be fine as wine. We hold our own fate as to how we want to finish our season. It’s all about how we respond to it, not only on Saturdays, but Sunday through Friday as well.”
Mercer football will hit the road to face off against the Campbell Camels in North Carolina next Saturday at 4 p.m.