Mercer Football Uses Big First Half to Cruise Past Ave Maria

MACON, Ga. — The Mercer University football team set program record with 42 first-half points, scoring on each of its first five possessions of the game to run away with a 42-21 victory over Ave Maria on Saturday night at Mercer University Stadium.

Mercer got off to a fast start for the second-straight game, scoring the first 21 points of the game. John Russ hit Payton Usher with a play-action pass down the middle of the field for a 53-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game for an early 7-0 advantage, before Russ connected with Chandler Curtis on a 28-yard slant route minutes later for the team’s second score. Alex Lakes broke several tackles and burst up the sideline for 54 yards and a touchdown on the Bears’ next possession as Mercer took a 21-0 advantage in the first quarter.

Curtis added a 61-yard punt return for a score in the second quarter, while Russ wrapped up Mercer’s first-half scoring with a four-yard touchdown run to send the team into the break with a 42-7 advantage. Ave Maria added a pair of second-half touchdowns to round out the scoring on the night.

The Bears racked up 392 yards of total offense in the first half alone, before sitting their starters in the second half. Mercer outgained the Gyrenes 513-351 for the game, thanks to a balanced attack that compiled 270 yards passing and 243 yards on the ground.

Russ finished 11-of-16 for 181 yards and three touchdowns through the air to go along with 18 yards and a score on the ground before taking a rest after the first half of play. Lakes, the Southern Conference’s leading rusher, ran for 109 yards and a score in two quarters of action, while Usher compiled 131 total yards and a touchdown on the night.

Mercer returns to Southern Conference action next week, as it travels to Lexington, Va. to face VMI. Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m.

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