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Mercer on the Move

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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After an opening loss to defending conference champion Wofford, who has at least a share of three consecutive league titles, Mercer has gone 3-1.

 One of the improving teams in the Southern Conference, Mercer has momentum. Impressively, the Bears have now won three of their last four games, defeating The Citadel, Western Carolina and nationally-ranked Chattanooga over the last month. Saturday's victory over the Mocs was a notable win for the Mercer program, head coach Drew Cronic and a team that is suddenly one of five in the SoCon with a winning league record. A 35-28 win over UTC gives the Bears their first triumph over a ranked opponent since September of 2018.

Facing a top ten foe, albeit one very shorthanded, away from home, Mercer built a big early lead and held on for another win. The Bears ultimately earned their inaugural road victory of the Cronic era, an important milestone during any transition. Mercer opened the scoring midway through the first quarter, later holding a 28-7 advantage by late in the third period. It was an impressive stretch of play, with Harrison Frost, Julian Beris and Brandon Marshall all rushing for touchdowns in roughly one quarter of play.

Led by Marshall, the Bears rushed for a total of 206 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Carter Peevy was also 13-of-17 passing and averaged 9.8 yards per attempt. Defensively, Mercer held Chattanooga to just 3-of-10 on third down tries and forced two turnovers. In all, in a contest that had multiple weather delays, the Bears were balanced and controlled the tempo of the game. Mercer made the plays, from the first half rally, to recovering a late onsides kick, that mattered most.

With a boost from this weekend, the Bears will have even more energy heading into a two-game home stretch against Furman and East Tennessee State. Though VMI is atop the conference standings as the league's only unbeaten team, redhot Mercer, with those two teams currently ahead of them in the rankings, has a chance to continue to climb. The Bears will finish the spring schedule against the Paladins, Bucs and Samford, all of whom are currently at .500 or better in SoCon play.

After an opening loss to defending conference champion Wofford, who has at least a share of three consecutive league titles, Mercer has gone 3-1, losing only at still-undefeated VMI. The Bears, in those three wins, scored a combined total of 122 points. Notably, Mercer is in the mix to potentially finish near the top of the SoCon standings. This is a team that is getting better week-by-week. 

In Macon, the bridge is lit; the glow should have the league's attention.

Fresh off a statement month of competition, Mercer is making a move.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports