After dominating their past two opponents, the Bears marched into Lexington, Virginia, looking to keep the streak alive against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets and their veteran coach, Sparky Woods.
Following a forced 3-and-out, the Bears scored on an Alex Lakes’ run from 18 yards out. The run put the Bears up, 7-0 with 8:33 left in the first.
The Keydets and Bears turned the ball over repeatedly late in the first and early into the second quarter. VMI, able to capitalize on a Chandler Curtis fumble deep in Bears territory, finally scored as Jabari Turner took it in from 1 yard out, tying the game at 7.
Following a series of Peyton Usher first downs, Curtis redeemed himself as he scored on a 23 yard run to give the Bears a 13-7 lead with 1:40 left in the half. VMI blocked the Bears point after attempt.
The Keydets and Bears would again trade possession following a pair of interceptions. With :31 seconds left in the half, Al Cobb found J.C Garvin from 8 yards out to give the Keydets a 14-13 lead at the half.
On their first drive of the second half, Alex Lakes scored from a yard out to cap an 8 play, 75 yard drive that put the Bears on top, 20-14. The Bears scored once more with 6:58 left in the third as Russ and Curtis connected on a 62-yard strike giving Mercer the 27-14 lead. The Keydets would respond with Dillion Christopher kicking a 39 yard field goal at 5:36 in the third, which narrowed the gap, 27-17.
VMI score once more as Cobb found Samuel Patterson with a 28 yard touchdown pass that shrunk the Bears lead to 27-24 with 6:36 left in the fourth. The Keydets comeback fell short as a Zach Johnson interception deep in Mercer territory allowed the Bears to run out the clock.
The Mercer Bears defeated the VMI Keydets, 27-24 to win their first Southern Conference game. The Bears move to 4-1 (1-1) on the season as they position themselves to compete for the conference title in their inaugural SoCon campaign.