Mercer won its first SoCon game of the season on Saturday when it took on the Virginia Military Institute over family weekend. The Bears came out on top, 38-3, after a strong show from their defense, as well as big-yardage plays from their offense and special teams.
After allowing 38 points against Furman last week, the Bears’ defense gave up only three on Saturday. The defense recovered two fumbles and and recorded an interception in the game, scoring 14 points off of two of those turnovers. Lance Wise ‘23 recorded his seventh-career interception in the second quarter, setting up a Tyrell Coard ‘27 touchdown. On the ensuing VMI drive, Richie Coffey ‘23 forced and recovered a fumble, leading to another Mercer touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Brayden Manley ‘27 tackled VMI’s quarterback for the team’s third sack of the game, and the first of Manley's collegiate career.
Al Wooten II ‘25 carried the ball 12 times in the game for 164 yards and two touchdowns. His first score came on the first play from scrimmage, a 76-yard run down the sideline for six points. Later, he scored on a 19-yard run to cap off an 11-play, 58-yard drive in the third quarter.
In the air, the Bears’ offense wasn’t as strong. Quarterback Carter Peevy ‘26 went 11-for-17 for 103 yards, but a large chunk of that yardage was a product of a 33-yard touchdown reception by Devron Harper ‘24 before the end of the first half. Peevy did, however, earn 37 net yards on the ground, good for more than five yards per run, on average.
After Mercer forced a three-and-out at the start of the third quarter, Harper returned his second punt of the season for a touchdown. With his performance on Saturday, Harper etched his name into Mercer history as he is now the all-time all-purpose yards leader, according to Mercer Athletics.
Next week, the team will travel to Johnson City, Tennessee as they face off against Eastern Tennessee State University. ETSU lost to SoCon powerhouse Samford University, 42-28 on Saturday, dropping the team’s record to 1-3 this season, and 0-1 in conference play.
Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.