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CORE 360, Issue 18 Find out more on MagCloud)

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Bears Big Plays Bounce Valpo

John Russ scores on the quarterback keeper for Mercer.


by Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine

John Russ and Peyton Usher each rushed for over a 100 yards to lead Mercer to a 35-21 win over Valparaiso Crusaders in Macon, Georgia on Saturday afternoon.

Valpo through down the gauntlet early with a 7 play 65 yard scoring drive on their first offensive series of the game. Tanner Kuramata set up the first score with a 39 yard catch and run from quarterback Eric Hoffman. Running back Denzell Conway punched it in from 7 yards out on second and goal.

Mercer came out the gate firing scuds at the Crusaders secondary. On their very first offensive play quarterback John Russ found D’Vante Penamon 20 yards behind the nearest defender but the red-shirt freshman could not hold on to the well-thrown pass. The Bears punted the ball after failing to gain a first.

The Crusaders found the going a bit tougher the second time around. Penalties and the Bears defense combined to shut down the engine at midfield after two first downs.

It was just the spark the offense needed. Mercer, playing in their first game since suffering a loss to San Diego on the road, mounted a 15-play scoring drive from their 4 yard line. A good mixing of the run (9 plays) with the pass carried the Bears steadily down the field. Inside the redzone, Russ called his number scampering easily into the endzone.

Penamon’s dropped pass and starting field position did nothing to discourage the Mercer offense. Despite being pinned against their endzone by Alex Kozlowski’s 45-yard punt being downed at the 1 yard line by Patrick Derbak, the Bears did the unthinkable. Go big or go home right? Russ decided big was better and threw the ball 53 yards in the air to a streaking Josh Jones. Jones’ 20 yard head start was enough to outrun CB Dale Cook to the goal line.

Hoffman went back to Kuramata to set up Valpo’s second score. Kuramata picked up 49 of his game high 170 receiving yards beating Sebastian Hicks down the sideline to the Mercer 19. The junior from Rancho Cucamonga, California finished off the drive catching a 25 yard touchdown pass on a seemingly unwise 4th and 16 call.

The answer from Mercer didn’t come right away but answer they did. Instead of going over the top Russ went underneath hitting unattended tight end Robert Brown for a 25 yard touchdown catch and run.

Mercer posted two more scores after Brown’s touchdown while the defense held Valpo’s offense to 50 yards on 19 plays over four series.

Kuramata added one more score, a 9 yard TD reception, before time expired but there was no catching the Bears.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS



Valpariaso Crusaders 21 - Mercer Bears 35
Slideshow

photos and video Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
  • Valpo running back Denzell Conway punches it in from 7 yards out on second and goal.

  • Mercer RB Peyton Usher is taken down by a pair of Valpo defenders

  • Mercer RB Peyton Usher runs through a huge hole created by the offensive line.

  • Valpo DE John Guilford sacks Mercer QB John Russ

  • Jordan Marshall runs 43 yards on the pass from John Russ but gets called back 15 yards on an illegal block

  • JT Palmer picks up a first down on 3rd and long.

  • Peyton Usher runs along the Mercer sideline.

  • John Russ calls his number.

  • Bears QB John Russ runs for a touchdown.

  • Bears QB John Russ runs for a touchdown.

  • Josh Jones hauls in the pass from Russ for a 93 yard TD.

  • Valpo TE Matt Mallon picks up yards after the catch.

  • Tanner Kuramata picks up 49 yards on the pass from Eric Hoffman.

  • Eric Hoffman flicks the ball to TE Matt Mallon just as S Corey Lockett delivers the hit.

  • TE Matt Mallon runs for yards after catching the flip from Hoffman.

  • Brandon Hall rumbles for yards after the catch.

  • Tanner Kuramata stands in the endzone after making a 25 yard touchdown reception on 4th and 16.

  • Peyton Usher puts his arm down to regain his balance after slipping.

  • John Russ stands tall in the pocket.

  • Eric Hoffman gets the ball off ahead of the the hit from LB Tyler Ward.

  • Grant Radakovich picks up a first down before stepping out of bounds.

  • Steve O'Bryant runs for 6 yards after catching the pass from Eric Hoffman.

  • Safety Mike Gray tackles Steve O'Bryant after a gain of 6 yards.

  • Valpo Head Coach Dale Carlson talks with Eric Hoffman as the team heads to the locker room for halftime.

  • Peyton Usher explodes through a gap in the line.

  • Francis Baker and company take down John Russ.

  • Mercer Head Coach Bobby Lamb talks things over with QB John Russ and WR JT Palmer during a time-out.

  • DE Kelly Brooks sacks Valpo QB Eric Hoffman.

  • WR Fred Gladney is chased by several Bears defenders.

  • JeTarri Donald avoids a tackle and runs for a 7 yard gain.

  • John Russ runs for a 5 yard TD.




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