By Kyle Yager, Assistant Sports Editor —
The Mercer Bears gave UTC its first conference road loss of the season in a 30-10 victory Saturday afternoon at Five Star Stadium in Macon, Georgia. Mocs’ quarterback Cole Copeland, Cleveland, Tennessee, threw for over 200 yards for the second straight game, and the Mocs set some individual records in the loss. Here are five takeaways from the contest.
Copeland shows poise
Copeland has thrown for over 200 yards in each of his first two collegiate starts. He’s looked comfortable and confident in both games, despite outcomes.
“He doesn’t act like a freshman and he doesn’t compete like a freshman,” said UTC coach Tom Arth. “I am so proud of him, and I just wish we were able to play a little bit better around him. He is playing at a high level. Unfortunately, we are having a hard time capitalizing on one another.”
Copeland finished 22-of-39 for 206 yards and one interception. As a freshman coming off only his second career collegiate action, Copeland should continue to improve as the season progresses.
Bears took control
Mercer scored 23 unanswered points in the 30-10 victory.
The Bears stifled UTC offensively, holding the Mocs to a total of 250 yards. The Mocs only managed 44 yards rushing, averaging 1.8 yards per rush. Mercer also recorded three sacks.
“I think when you are the leader, that comes with the territory,” said Arth. “Everything that happens on the football field is my responsibility. That is just the way that it is and the way that it will always be. When things go good, I am sure I will get a lot of credit, which I probably won’t have much to do with. Players win games and coaches lose them. That is the way that it is. All we can do is fight and we just have to keep getting better.”
The Bears were efficient on offense. Mercer posted 316 yards of offense and didn’t turn the ball over. The Bears scored a touchdown to make it 6-3, one minute after the Mocs put their first points on the board. Mercer didn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
Defense turns in solid performance
Defensively, the Mocs played well throughout. They held the Bears to 82 rushing yards on a 2.4 yards per carry average.
Junior defensive lineman Derek Mahaffey, Oxford, Alabama, recorded nine total tackles, including two tackles-for-loss. Senior linebacker Dale Warren, Covington, Georgia, tallied seven tackles including one tackle-for-loss.
“We improved,” said Mahaffey. “Last week, we struggled with the run, but this week we took the line out. We hurt ourselves with penalties but other than that, I thought we played well as a unit. We just have to eliminate the minor mistakes.”
Junior tight end Bailey Lenoir, Chattanooga, recorded a new career-high in receptions. He ended the contest compiling a stat line of six receptions for 56 yards.
Copeland clearly felt in sync with his tight end, as Lenoir had more receptions this game (6) than he had all season (5). It’s a common theme among young quarterbacks, and Lenoir will look to continue to be a safety valve for Copeland.
Kicker Victor Ulmo, Chattanooga, crushed a career long 44-yard field goal in the loss. This was the first score of the game, as it gave the Mocs their only lead throughout the contest. The field goal capped off a 13 play, 61-yard drive that took 6:03 and ended with 14:54 in the second quarter.
Ulmo now has five field goals made this season. Ulmo also made a PAT later in the contest. On kickoffs, Ulmo recorded an average of 44.7 yards per, and blasted one touchback.