by Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
Good teams, or teams aspiring to be good, play well regardless of who stands on the opposite sideline. Mercer showed what kind of team they want to be by dispatching Division III Carnegie Mellon 54-21 Saturday afternoon.
Mercer's 'Black Swarm' Defense set the tone early holding the visitors to minus 11 yards of offense through the first quarter. During the span Head Coach Bobby Lamb's coach on the field quarterback John Russ guided the Bears offense to three consecutive touchdown producing drives. Shifty running back Peyton Usher added to his 719 yards on the season with a 52 yard romp for the Bears first TD of the game. Usher finished the game with 115 rushing yards on the ground despite getting to rest the entire second half.
The Tartans posted their first score of the game midway through the second quarter trailing by 30. Andrew Hearon's pass to Tim Kitka went for 51 yards giving Carnegie Mellon their best field position in the game to that point. It was all smash mouth football from the 17 yard line. Sophomore fullback Steve Sroba took the hand-off, stepped left and punched through two tacklers for the score.
Comfortably ahead by 26 points, Coach Lamb turned to his back-up quarterback Michael Haynes. "When we came out in the second half we left our starting line in," said Lamb. "It was good to get him in there and see him run around and makes some plays with his feet. Haynes did just that with his first offensive possession, guiding the Bears 64 yards on 9 plays for another touchdown.
Mercer's defense kept the clamps on the Tartans offense. Sytavious Brown shut down a Tartans potential scoring drive picking off a Hearon pass at the Bears 7 that was intended for Tim Swanson. Brown returned the interception 27 yards. Two plays later Jabari Scruggs made the highlight reel with a 66 yard touchdown run.
Another interception of Hearon meant another touchdown for the Bears. Thanks to Josh Bennett's sticky hands the Bears offense started on the Tartans side of the field. Up 47 points, Lamb took the air out of the ball. Even without the passing game the offense posted 41 of their 391 total yards and another touchdown on the drive.
Carnegie Mellon added to touchdowns in the final 8 minutes of the game but the damage was done.
The Bears will journey up I-85 to North Carolina over the next two weekends to face Campbell and Davidson.
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