The resilient Mercer Bears are riding a two game win streak following dominating wins on the road against Stetson and at home against Ava Maria. On Sept. 6, the Bears suffered their first home defeat since 1941 as they fell to the No. 17 Furman Paladins 25-20.
Looking to avenge themselves, the Bears marched into Deltona with a purpose. From the opening kickoff, the Bears put their heels on the throat of the Mad Hatters and refused to let up.
Following a fumble recovery on the opening kickoff, Alex Lakes punched it in from 12 yards out as the Bears’ opening drive went two plays for 21 yards in a mere 12 seconds. Later in the first, a 38-yard run by Lakes and an 11-yard pass from John Russ to J.T Palmer set up a 21-yard touchdown scamper from Freshman Tee Mitchell as the Bears went up 14-0 with 9:41 left in the first. Alex Lakes, following a 26-yard run, found the end zone again from nine yards out. The 13-play, 83-yard drive put the Bears on top 21-0 with 2:12 in the first.
The first score in the second quarter came at 9:46 as Alex Lakes scored his third touchdown on the night from a yard out following a 40-yard completion from Russ to Avery Ward. The Bears go up 28-0 with 9:46 in the second. A goal line stand on fourth down from the one yard line kept the Mad Hatters out of the end zone. The Bears, from their own five, proceeded to march down the field. The 7-play, 95-yard scoring drive was capped by a Russ to Palmer connection that put the Bears up 35-0 with 0:18 seconds left in the half.
The Bears kept it going in the second half. A 40-yard touchdown run by Peyton Usher at 6:30 left in the third gave the Bears a 35-0 lead. The Bears scored their final touchdown with 2:25 left in the third as JeTarri Donald ran it in from 39 yards out.
In their 49-0 throttling of Stetson, the Bears allowed 244 total yards and forced 5 turnovers on defense while putting up 508 total yards on offense.
This weekend, the Bears carried that momentum into their matchup with the Ava Maria Gyrenes. In the first half, the Bears did exactly the same thing that they had done in the past week.
On their first offensive snap, John Russ connected with Peyton Usher for a 53-yard touchdown, putting the Bears up 7-0 with 13:59 left in the first. Later in the quarter, Russ would throw another touchdown, this time to Chandler Curtis to put the Bears up 14-0 with 11:29 left in the first. Alex Lakes found the end zone with 54-yard run that put the Bears on top 21-0 with 7:30 left in the first. Ava Maria would respond with a 54-yard run of its own as Kaleb Coffee put the Gyrenes on the board. The Bears led 21-7 with 6:05 left in the quarter.
The first play of the second quarter put the Bears on the board once more as Russ connected with Robert Brown from 8 yards out as the Bears led 28-7. Following a three and out by the Gyrenes, Chandler Curtis returned a punt for 61 yards and found the end zone. The Bears stretched their lead to 35-7. A four-yard touchdown run by John Russ with :44 seconds left in the half gave the Bears a 42-7. In the process, the Bears’ offense broke a team record for the number of first half points.
The first half cushion was enough to keep the Bears ahead as Coach Lamb allowed his backups to enter the game. Ave Maria would score twice in the second half: once on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bob Orban to Sage Roberts with 1:15 left in the third and again on 43-yard pass from Matthew Kreichman to Ryan O’Rourke with :39 seconds left in the fourth. The Bears defeated the Gyrenes 42-21.