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Sunday, Oct 24, 2021

“Legion of Chaos’” turnover focus pays off against Auburn

Every Sunday, the Mercer Bears defense goes through a “turnover circuit.” It’s a drill where the defense works on takeaways and what happens afterwards. The drill translated well to the field last Saturday when the Bears forced five turnovers against the #15 ranked Auburn Tigers. The Bears lost 24-10, but the game was still in reach for much of the fourth quarter only down a touchdown.

The “Legion of Chaos,” as they’ve come to calling themselves, handed Auburn their highest turnover total since 2012 and most lost fumbles since 2001.

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Head Coach Bobby Lamb called turnover ratio the “most important stat in football” and said his team performed well against their tough SEC opponent. Through three games the team has a plus-three turnover margin, tied for first in the Southern Conference, and led the league with eight total turnovers forced and six forced fumbles.

Leading the charge for the defense is senior linebacker LeMarkus Bailey. He said the defensive effort against Auburn is a statement for teams the Bears will face the rest of the season.

“It definitely gave us confidence. It just showed people all around, naysayers, anybody that doubted us that basically we can compete with the best,” he said.

Bailey said that the Bears defense can’t be taken lightly when they step on the field. He leads the team in total tackles (29), solo tackles (18), and has a forced fumble, recovered fumble, and interception to his credit. Lamb gave him the game ball for his 11 tackle performance against Auburn.

[video credit="Avery Braxton" align="right"][/video]

“"You can see him flying to the ball," Lamb said. "He loves competition and he loves to create chaos as he calls it. He's done a good job of that and he's a great leader on our team as well."

While the Bears offense did not create a lot of points against Auburn, they can look positively at the zeroes in the turnover and sack categories. Starting quarterback Kaelan Riley said the team is not taking any “moral victories” in the loss, but believes that the offense and defense can complement each other moving forward.

“If they keep taking the ball away, and we keep not giving the ball up, I think that’s going to work in our favor,” Riley said.

The Bears face ETSU on Saturday in Johnson City, Tennessee.


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