The Mercer Bears (4-3) took on conference rival Western Carolina (3-4) on Saturday and came away with a win 59-46 over the Catamounts. It was a solid win for the Bears after a tough loss last week to Yale . Here are our three takeaways from Mercer’s win over Western Carolina.
1. Record breaking Bears
Both individual and team records fell against Western Carolina. Tee Mitchell set the new Mercer record for career rushing yards. Mitchell overtakes his former teammate Alex Lakes, who previously held the record with 2,604 yards. Mitchell came into the game needing 121 yards for the record. He finished the night with 23 carries, 157 yards and one rushing touchdown.
Mitchell said that he credits his offensive line, coaches and community for helping him break the rushing record. It was also a special moment for him to be able to pass his friend in getting the record.
Cole Fisher became the all-time leading scorer for the Mercer Bears. Fisher broke the record on an extra point in the fourth quarter. As a team, they broke the school record for the most points scored in a Southern Conference game.
2. Defense bends but doesn’t break
The Bears struggled on defense for much of the night. Every time the defense stepped on the field it felt like the Catamounts were scoring. Their quarterback Tyrie Adams looked more like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson against the Bears defense for much of the game.
The Bears came out of the half though and made multiple key stops. Mercer forced two turnovers and stopped a four-down conversion attempt. Bradley Earnest forced a turnover on downs with a key tackle of Adams. A tipped pass allowed Brandon Gurley to pick off Adams. Then after the Catamounts recovered a kickoff, the Bears forced a fumble to put the game away for good.
Earnest said after the game that in the second half they started to recognize more of what Adams was trying to do on offense. He said that on the fourth down play he knew that he had to step up and make a play.
3. The Bears find a home run hitter on offense
Mercer wide receiver David Durden is former minor league baseball player for the Boston Red Sox organization. Against Western Carolina, Durden hit multiple home runs.
The biggest play of the game was right before the end of the second half. Bobby Lamb accepted a penalty on the kickoff and forced the Catamounts to kickoff again. Durden took full advantage as he took the ball 95-yards to the house to give Mercer its first lead of the night. Durden also threw a pass that almost resulted in a record breaking touchdown for wide receiver Marquise Irvin. A pass interference by Western Carolina kept Irvin from catching it. Durden also caught a touchdown pass from Riley.
Lamb said the best way to describe him is that he is just a football player. He said that Durden just loves the game of football.
Despite opting for baseball first, Durden is settling in nicely as the Bears home run hitter on the football field.