Mercer defense faces tough test
Tyler Ward’s jersey had a couple of rips in it, and the senior linebacker looked like he put in a full day’s work Saturday in Mercer’s loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday.
But Ward liked the fight he saw from his defensive mates in the 35-10 Georgia Tech win, even if that could have been more consistent.
“A lot of times, I feel like we showed up and played tough. We showed our toughness out there, our never-back-down attitude,” Ward said. “Other times we got knocked back, so we need to be more consistent in that area.”
Ward pointed to Georgia Tech’s final drive of the first half as an example of that as the Yellow Jackets stretched their lead to 21-7 with a five-play, 91-yard drive in just 1 minute, 38 seconds.
Georgia Tech finished with 444 yards of total offense, including 364 yards on 52 carries. Former Lamar County standout Qua Searcy led the way for the Yellow Jackets with 91 yards on seven carries, while Justin Thomas had 69 yards on seven carries despite not playing the second half.
“We got outflanked several times, especially right there before the half,” Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said. “They ran the same play on the triple-option and got it pitched out on the edge, and we just weren’t there like we should have been. So I was happy with our effort, but a couple of times in the first half, we didn’t line up right to a couple of their oversets.
“But they’re difficult to defend. We didn’t give up just the home run there, I know they had a lot of long runs but not the home run play like we did last week up the middle.”
And the Bears’ defense did make some plays.
Georgia Tech fumbled on its first drive, and the Bears’ offense turned that into a 7-0 lead on a John Russ touchdown pass to Avery Ward. In the fourth quarter, Mercer’s defense came up with a stand deep in its territory as Brandon Gurley forced a fumble and recovered it at the 2.
Tripp Patterson led the Bears with nine tackles, while Ward had six and Eric Jackson and Gurley each had four.
“We’re consistently trying to get the ball out, especially in a goal-line situation,” Ward said. “That was huge, a big momentum boost, but we let them get down to the 2. We did get the ball out, but the offense couldn’t get the ball out of there, and they were starting on the 30 again.
“So we have to make that happen on their side and not so much in our territory.”