After dominating their past two opponents, the Bears marched into Lexington, Va., 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 one 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 the first drive of the second half, Alex Lakes scored from a yard out to cap an eight-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’s 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.
The Bears took the road once again in another Southern Conference game against last season’s co-champions, the Samford Bulldogs. Coach Bobby Lamb and the Bears sought to extend their three-game win streak, but it came to an end.
The Bears won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Following a pair of three-and-outs by both the Bears and Bulldogs, Samford’s Denzel Williams scored on a two-yard touchdown run to cap a five-play, 65-yard drive that put the Bulldogs up 7-0. The Bears would score with 2:28 left in the first quarter on a Jagger Lieb 37 yard field goal, narrowing the gap to 7-3.
Strong defensive play kept both teams off the board until the middle of the second, when Denzel Williams ran it in from three yards out to give the Bulldogs a 14-3 lead with 5:57 left in the half. The Bears would respond with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by a John Russ one-yard run. Samford led 14-10 with 1:11 in the half. The Bulldogs attempted to score before half. However, Warren Handrahan missed a 44-yard field goal. Samford entered the half with a four-point lead.
Samford would stop Mercer on its first drive of the second half and march down the field. Micheal Eubanks connected with Gavin Sinclair from 24 yards out to give the Bulldogs a 21-10 lead with 8:28 left in the third. The Bulldogs would force the Bears to punt two more times in the quarter, and Handrahan would miss a field goal once again, this time from 35 yards out. The Bears entered the fourth quarter down by 11.
In the fourth, strong defensive play once again dominated the quarter. The Bears failed to score on offensive, and Jagger Lieb missed an important field goal from 45 yards out. Chandler Curtis managed to return a punt 99 yards, and John Russ converted on a two-point conversion as the Bears narrowed the gap 21-18 with 53 seconds left. The onside kick was not recovered by the Bears, and the Bulldogs proceeded to run out the clock. The Samford Bulldogs defeated the Mercer Bears 21-18. The Bulldogs snapped the Bears three-game winning streak. Mercer moves to 4-2 (1-2) on the year.