MACON, Ga. (School Release) - On what turned out to be an ideal day for football, more than 4,000 spectators witnessed the Mercer football program take part in its inaugural Spring Game at the Moye Family Football Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Excited Mercer fans filled the still unfinished sideline stands to enjoy the beautiful weekend weather and watch head coach Bobby Lamb's squad compete in four shortened quarters of practice football. The Bears amassed 87 plays from scrimmage, giving Lamb and his coaching staff plenty to evaluate over the next couple of weeks.
"I think our program took a tremendous step forward today," head coach Bobby Lamb said. "It was a perfect day to showcase the stadium, our players and the direction this team is headed. I am proud of the product we were able to show our fans."
The roster was broken into two separate teams giving fans an idea of what to expect when the Bears take the field for real this fall. As anticipated, the Beas defense was a couple steps ahead of the offense as both team defenses kept the offense out of the endzone. The two defenses forced three turnovers, including two fumbles and an interception.
"Obviously the defense was a little more dominant today, but that is to be expected at this point," Lamb said. "I am confident in the way both sides of the ball performed and am encouraged by the attitude and effort we gave today."
The Black Jersey Team offense was run by quarterback John Russ who unofficially had six drives under center while his counterpart Eli Grambling took seven drives as quarterback of the White Jersey Team. The two quarterbacks each led drives of over 50 yards in the second quarter and at times looked in control of Lamb's offense.
"Our guys competed at a high level today and I think we accomplished what we set out to do as a team this spring season," Lamb said. "These players and coaching staff have put in a lot of hard work and effort the past eight months and today gave us a great blueprint on how to improve in the fall."
The Bears' closest scoring drive came in the third quarter. At the helm for Black Jersey team, Russ orchestrated a 60-yard drive that began on his own 38 yard line. Russ connected with wide receiver D'Vante Penamon for a 20-yard reception, his longest of the day. A 15-yard penalty gave the Black Jersey team a first down on the 26-yard line.
Running back Jabari Scruggs took the next handoff and rushed for a three-yard gain to the 23-yard line. A pass interference call in the end zone spotted the ball at the at the White Jersey team 8-yard line, before the defense would create a takeaway.
After a short gain by Scruggs, Russ completed a short pass in the flat to Jordan Marshall for a five-yard gain to the 2-yard line. However, Marshall was stood up and stripped and the White Jersey Team was able to recover for the turnover.
Grambling, produced drives of 52 yards, 36 yards and 33 yards including one that gave the special teams a shot at a field goal. Mercer soccer player turned football kicker, Josh Shutter took the Bears live field goal attempt and missed just wide left from 36-yards out.
Unofficially, the defensive leaders for the Black Jersey Team included defensive back Seth Hattaway who recorded four total tackles and had the lone interception for either squad. Linebacker Tosin Aguebor paced the White Jersey Team with six tackles, including three for a loss.
All in all, coach Lamb came away pleased with the performance and perhaps more importantly identified where his team can make adjustments before facing Reinhardt in the team's first game next fall.
"We will evaluate this scrimmage for the next two weeks and develop our game plan for summer workouts and come back for August camp ready to improve and work toward that first kickoff."