For their fifth game of the season, the Catamounts remain in Cullowhee to meet the Mercer Bears. This will be the first ever trip for Bears football to visit Cullowhee.
This is the second meeting between Mercer and the Catamounts on the gridiron, and the Cats picked up a win in the initial meeting between these two teams last season in Macon, so we expect the Bears will travel to Cullowhee expecting to return the favor.
When: Saturday, October 10th at 3:30 pm
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium. Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV / video: American Sports Network (ASN)
Bobby Lamb enters his third season as head coach of Mercer football. In his first season, the Bears set a NCAA Division I record for wins by a first-year program with a 10-2 campaign. The 2013 win total also set a school record for victories, surpassing the previous mark of seven wins by Lake Russell’s 1931 and 1932 squads. Lamb led the Bears into their first season of Southern Conference play in 2014,
Last year’s record (Mercer): 6-6 overall (home: 4-3, away: 2-3), 1-6 in the SoCon
Last Season's Game vs. Mercer (Oct. 18, 2014): Catamounts Light Up Mercer's Black Out, 35-21 - Spearman Robinson hauled in three of Western Carolina's four receiving touchdowns on Saturday afternoon as the Catamounts remained perfect in Southern Conference play with a 35-21 road victory over the Mercer Bears at the Mercer University Stadium. Mitchell finished the game 13-of-18 passing for 194 yards with the career-high tying three touchdown passes. He also added 62 yards rushing, second just to freshman tailback Detrez Newsome who carried the ball 16 times for 76 of his 115 all-purpose yards. Benson tallied 63 receiving yards and 37 on kickoff returns.
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 10 / 1
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 11 / 0
Specialist - Returning/Lost: 3 / 1 - The Bears lose kicker Will Roper to graduation
Offensive Formation: Pistol (Lamb was known for his run-heavy I-formation offenses at Furman, but now he's utilizing a spread attack that closely resembles those of Western Carolina and Chattanooga out of the Pistol)
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Even though the Mercer Bears only had one Southern Conference victory in 2014, Mercer completed the season in second place in scoring offense (32.5 ppg) and fourth overall in scoring defense (24.1 ppg). The Bears picked up seven individual honors in the postseason: freshman wide receiver Chandler Curtis was named to the SoCon All Conference first team and freshman Alex Lake also was first team All SoCon; two Bear defensive linemen picked up second team honors, Alex Avant & Tyler Ward - while Wilson Heres was named to the second team as an offensive lineman; Defensive lineman Austin Barrett and linebacker Kyle Williams were named to the all freshman team.
At the 2015 SoCon Media Day, the Bears were selected to finish in 6th place by both the coaches and media for the 2015 season. Mercer's Chandler Curtis and Alex Lakes were named to the Preseason All-Southern Conference First Team, headlining six Bears on the preseason teams. The Bears' defense placed three individuals on the Preseason All-Socon Second Team. Senior defensive back Alex Avant, defensive tackle Austin Barrett and linebacker Tyler Ward, Sophomore punter Matt Shiel, a transfer from Auburn, gave Mercer its sixth honoree with second team honors.
2015 Mercer Statistics (YTD - 4 games):
Rushing Offense: 965 yards
Yards per game: 242
Yards per rush: 5.3 yards
TDs rushing: 8
Passing Offense: 975 yards or 244 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 78-132-0
Total Offense: 1940 yards or 464 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 42
Rushing 1st downs: 48
Fumbles-Lost: 6 - 3
Penalties-Yards: 21 - 198 yards
3d Down Conversions: 28 of 61 or 36%
4th Down Conversions: 6 of 10 or 50%
Field Goals - Attempts: 6 of 10
Red-Zone Scores: 17 of 18 (94%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 13 of 18 (72%)
Punts (No. Yards): 13 (538 yds) Avg, per punt: 41 yds
Time of possession per game: 32: 09
Who has the Bears play prior to Western?
The Bears opened the season with two of three games on the road. Mercer traveled to Governors Stadium to meet Austin Peay, where they picked up a 28-7 win to open the season. The running game was key for the Bears win, as Mercer rushed for 260 yards and four touchdowns. The Bear's Alex Lakes ran for a game-high 159 yards on 23 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per carry and two of those touchdowns. Tee Mitchell finished with 101 yards and a TD, while Robert Brown completed four receptions for 52 yards. The Bears defense held the Governors to just 56 rushing yards.
Returning home to Macon the following weekend, the Bears hosted Stetson in their home opener, but were not very nice host as they racked up a 57-14 win. The Bears rolled up a total of 51 points. and 476 yards of total offense in the first half of the game, leading at halftime with 51-7. The Bears scored on their first eight possessions of the game, and racked up 623 yards against the out-manned Stetson team. John Russ threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns on 16-of-19 passing.
On September 19, the Bears traveled to Cookeville, Tennessee to meet the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, where Mercer suffered their first loss of the season, 22-29. This was a notable loss, as it was the first loss to a non-conference opponent during the Bobby Lamb era at Mercer, a run of 11 straight out of conference wins. Running Back Tee Mitchell had a career-high 130 yards on 19 carries, while the Bear defense held the Golden Eagles to just 56 yards rushing, but the Eagles exploded with 301 yards in the air. Tennessee Tech scored touchdowns on three of its first five possessions jumping out to an early 21-6 lead, which the Bears could not overcome. .
On October 3, the Bears returned home to Macon to host their first conference opponent of the season, the Wofford Terriers. The Bears lost their second game in dramatic fashion, a one point loss in overtime to the Terriers, 33-34. Wofford led the entire game, until the final 3 second of regulation time with Mercer's Jagger Lieb hit a 23 yard field goal to tie the game up, 27-27. Mercer had the ball first in overtime, scoring quickly in the first play for 25 yard, however, the point after was wide, giving the Bears a 6 point lead. Wofford then scored on a 14 yard run by Evan Jacks, to tie the score. Kicker David Marvin's PAT was good, sealing the win by one point by the Terriers.
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