The Mercer community was excited to see what the football team would do against the Auburn University Tigers after last year when they scored twice on the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, despite the odds. Playing a top SEC school has become a tradition for Mercer football and fans have been having a blast with it.
Students loaded into five fan buses to support the orange and black, and though Mercer was defeated 42-16, fans were not disappointed with the outcome.
On Auburn's first possession, the run game could not be stopped. Running back Jarquez Hunter rushed for 19-yards into the endzone, scoring the first touchdown of the contest. Mercer took the field and struggled to make it to the 50-yard line, eventually having to punt the ball away.
During their second possession, the Tigers had a 49-yard run followed by TJ Finley connecting with Ja’Varrius Johson for a 40-yard pass that set them up at first and goal from the one. A 2-yard pass to John Shenker would raise the score to 14-0.
The Bears had to punt again on their next possession, but back-to-back defensive tackles from Mercer’s Ken Standley forced the Tigers to do the same when they got the ball on the 45.
In the second quarter, the Bears got the ball at the 11-yard line after the punt went out of bounds. They managed to pick up some energy with a 9-yard first down pass to Devron Harper, but after Fred Payton was taken down in the backfield, they could not recover.
After another Auburn touchdown, the Bears got the ball at the 25, but a lockdown Tigers defense kept them from making any catches. After a false start penalty on Mercer, they could not produce a first down and were forced to punt again and Auburn added another seven onto the board.
On Auburn’s next possession, safety Chris Joines intercepted a pass and the Bears took over at their own 29. Payton connected with Ty James for a first down at the 15-yard line, but the Bears got back-to-back false start calls that sent them back 10 yards. Payton found James again and Mercer had a fourth-and-one on the 6-yard line. After winning the challenge, claiming James got the first down, the Bears were set up with a first-and-goal. Payton connected with Harper and Devin Folser made the extra point, making the score 28-7 at the end of the first half.
On Auburn's first possession of the third quarter, T.J. Moore intercepted a pass and the Bears took over at the 37-yard line. They were making their way down the field, but the momentum was stopped when Payton was sacked and the ball was punted away.
The Tigers got the ball on the 20-yard line and a 56-yard pass would put them at first goals from the 7. Jarquez Hunter would meet the end zone, bringing the score to 35-7. After a 90-minute lightning delay, Tank Bigsby ran for 39 yards for another Auburn touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears' defense kept Auburn from doing any more damage to the scoreboard. On their next possession, the Bears were making their way down the field, but Payton could not connect with any receivers after the Auburn defense started applying pressure. After collecting three penalties in a row, the Bears opted for a 33-yard field goal attempt and Folser brought the score to 42-10.
When they got the ball back, Payton connected with Parker Wroble twice and Harper once, setting the Bears up 10 yards from the end zone. Payton connected again with Harper for a touchdown and the final score was 42-16.
Mercer running backs Al Wooten and Austin Douglas collectively rushed 74 yards out of the Bears' 94 total. Fred Payton went 21 for 36 with 197 passing yards and two touchdowns. Harper, James and Wroble had 127 receiving yards out of the Bears' 197 yards total.