Mercer

Mercer drops out of title race with close loss to ETSU

Mercer running back Tyray Devezin (34) runs for a first down Saturday during the Bears’ game against East Tennessee State. Mercer lost the game 21-18.
Mercer running back Tyray Devezin (34) runs for a first down Saturday during the Bears’ game against East Tennessee State. Mercer lost the game 21-18. jvorhees@macon.com

The Mercer Bears (4-5) took on conference rival East Tennessee State University (8-2). The Bears left with a heartbreaking loss 21-18 to the Buccaneers. It was a tough defeat for the Mercer program. Here are three takeaways from Mercer’s loss to ETSU.

1. There is always next year.

Every year this ends up being a takeaway at some point during the season. This year it was a little later than normal. The Mercer program is growing every season and the team is getting closer to breaking through.

Unfortunately, it probably won’t be this year. The team had so much hype following the win over a ranked Samford team. Then the wheels fell off. The injuries started to pile up along with the losses. There are still two games left for the Bears but the loss to ETSU all but eliminates them from the playoffs. The chance at Southern Conference title is gone as well. It is tough for a group of seniors who looked poised to finally deliver that conference title that each group before them had talked about.

2. The future is bright.

We saw a glimpse of the future today with Harrison Frost and Tyray Devezin getting their first starts at quarterback and running back. This was due to injuries to Mercer’s first and second string quarterbacks and starting running back Tee Mitchell. Frost had two interceptions but he played well for the most part. He has the ability to be a really good player for the Bears in the future. Devezin will be the main guy next year.

In the postgame press conference, he said that this game was just a sneak peek for what fans can expect from him in the future. Devezin carried the ball 29 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. If this is just a sneak peek, then the Bears are in good hands for the near future.

3. The defense finally steps up.

Each week you could list out a lot of things wrong with the Bears defense. It gives up too many yards. It allows teams to score too easily. It gives up too many big plays and can’t get off the field on third down.

They silenced some of the critics, myself included, with their performance against ETSU. There were times late in the game that the defense couldn’t get a stop when it needed one, but I won’t dwell on the negatives. This is a positive step for a unit that just simply hasn’t looked good all season long.

Bradley Earnest has become a leader for this team. He seems to make one or two big, standout plays every game.

The Bears only allowed 21 points — a season low in conference play. The defense has to build off of this performance.

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