The start to Friday’s game against Marion County was far from perfect for Mercer County. The Titans failed to recover an on sides kick by the Knights, setting Marion County up with first and 10 at Mercer’s 41-yard-line. From that play on, the Titans resembled near perfection as they dominated Marion County in a 55-0 shutout, their first since the 2008 season when they blanked Lincoln County 47-0.
“I’m glad we were able to pull out and win,” Mercer Head Coach Chris Pardue said. “I didn’t think that we could pull away from them like we did. I knew that they were a young ball club, but when I watched the film I knew that they were very aggressive, especially inside, and I thought our kids did a good job.”
The Knights turned the ball over on downs four plays later giving the Titans the ball at their 33-yard-line. That’s where Mercer hit their final speed bump of the game as starting quarterback Darion Lewis went out with a minor injury on their opening offensive play. Freshman Drew Davis stepped in for Mercer completing both his pass attempts to wide receiver Chris Crawley-Goodman for 52-yards on the 71-yard scoring drive capped off by a James Johnson 11-yard touchdown run with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter.
“I planned on playing Drew some, but I didn’t plan on playing him that early in the game,” Pardue said. “He made a couple freshman mistakes, but he also made some nice throws, some nice plays.”
It was a breakout game for more Titans than just Davis. Crawley-Goodman made his presence felt both offensively and defensively, scooping and scoring on 22-yard fumble recovery on the Knights next offensive play. With Stetson Cooley’s blocked extra point attempt, it gave Mercer a 13-0 lead with 5:49 left in the first quarter. Crawley-Goodman finished the game with a game high six catches for 165-yards, a touchdown and an interception.
“I thought the defense set the tone for the ballgame. We started off a little shaky, then we got some nice hits on some guys in there and just started playing great. They got that turnover and scored on defense, and that was huge,” Pardue said. “They played defense like that most of the week in practice, and it carried over and I’m so proud of that.”
The Titans gave up just five first downs to the Knights the entire first half while forcing them into three turnovers and blocked a Marion County field goal attempt in the final seconds of the second quarter.