The Mercer Bears took the field last night to face the Samford University Bulldogs for their Southern Conference home opener, winning 45-42. Running back Fred Davis stole the show for Mercer, reaching the end zone five times and breaking the school record for rushing yards.
The Bulldogs came out strong and scored the first touchdown of the game with eight minutes to go in the first quarter. Mercer kicker Devin Folser answered quickly with a 42-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Davis then began his historic night by breaking through Samford’s defensive line to bring in a 31-yard touchdown, giving the Bears the lead with just over three minutes to go in the half. The Bulldogs managed to match Mercer’s touchdown with a minute and eight seconds to go, leaving the Bears trailing 14-10 at the end of the first half.
A relatively low-scoring game would become a shootout in the second half as both teams went back and forth with touchdowns in the third quarter. The Bulldogs scored first, but it only took Davis three plays to match the touchdown with a 21-yard scoring run of his own.
Samford answered with yet another touchdown, but the Bears would go on to score two more times, once with a 54-yard run from Davis into the end zone and again with a 15-yard pass to Ty James from quarterback Fred Payton. The last touchdown of the quarter would put the Bears up 31-28 going into the final quarter.
Each team would score twice in the fourth, but Samford came up short in the end. Davis scored both of Mercer’s fourth quarter touchdowns, which accounted for two of his five total trips to the end zone, and broke a school record for the most rushing yards in a single game. The previous record was set at 202, but Davis raised the bar with a total of 276 yards on the ground.
This win put the Bear’s record at 3-1 and 2-0 in conference play with the team's only loss coming at the hands of Alabama. They will travel to Western Carolina University next week to continue Southern Conference play.