Monday, November 6, 2017

Game #11: Mercer






In the Cat's eleventh game of the season, the Mercer Bears travel to Cullowhee for the Cats fifth & final home game of the regular season.

Western faces the Bears for just the fourth time since Mercer joined the Southern Conference.

When: Saturday, November 11 at 2:00 pm
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
- Talent: Gary Ayers (pxp), Greg McLamb (color), Jeff Bryson, Dan Gibson (sideline)
TV / video: ESPN3 The Series
- Talent: Daniel Hooker (pxp), Kyle Rush (color) & Katie Miller (sideline)
Fan Message Board:  MU Bear Down
Game Notes:     Western Carolina     -     Mercer    -     SoCon Weekly Release

Head Coach: Bobby Lamb (Furman, ‘87)
Record at Mercer: 32-24 (4 yrs)
Career Record: 98-64 (14 yrs)
Basic Offense: Pistol
Basic Defense: 3-4
Lettermen Returning / Lost: 41 / 30
Starters Returning / Lost (O/D/S): 15 (7/6/2) / 10 (4/5/1)
The Series:  In only the 4th meeting between the two teams, the Cats own a 2-1 record over the visiting Bears, having lost last season in Macon, GA. Western is 1-0 against the Bears in Cullowhee.

Last Season's Game vs. Mercer (Oct. 15, 2016) Catamount Football Falls to Mercer, 38-24 Macon, GA - Alex Lakes rushed for 112 yards with two touchdowns and Mercer pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Western Carolina 38-24 on Saturday in Southern Conference action at Five Star Stadium. Western Carolina made it a seven-point game with 5:48 to go on Logan Howard's 30-yard field goal. The ensuing kickoff was returned 31 yards by Chandler Curtis and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty set up Mercer on the WCU 40. Seven plays later, Lakes' 2-yard plunge sealed it with 1:53 left.

Last season's record (Mercer): 6-5 overall, 4-1 home, 2-4 away, 4-4 SoCon

Games played by the Bears this season prior to the WCU game: (9) - Record this season: 4-5 overall, 3-4 conference, 3-2 home, 1-3 away
-Jacksonville (home) The Bears kicked off the season big, with a 47-7 win over Jacksonville
-Wofford (home) Mercer dropped a one-point game to the #10 Terriers in game two, 27-18
-Auburn (away) Mercer has a good showing in 10-24 loss to FBS foe Auburn
-ETSU (away) The Bears woes start when they lose in  overtime to upstart ETSU by three points, 23-26
-VMI (home) Mercer gets on right track with a 49-14 win over winless VMI
-The Citadel (away) The Bears surprise the #17 Bulldogs on the road,  24-14
- Chattanooga (home) Mercer continues the wining streak by beating the Mocs, 30-10
-Furman (away) - The Bears road woes continue in Greenville, as the Paladins win 21-28
-Samford (home) Mercer starts a new streak, this time in losses as the #14 Dogs hold Mercer to a field goal

Key Losses:  QB John Russ, OL Bret Niederreither, OL Kirby Southard, OL Avery White, Punter Tyler Zielenske

The Bears were picked fifth in the SoCon preseason polls returning 14 starters from last season's 6-5 team. The fifth-place vote is Mercer's second highest in four years as a SoCon football member. Offensive lineman Thomas Marchman, tight end Sam Walker and placekicker Cole Fisher were named to the Preseason All-SoCon First Team. Wide receiver Marquise Irvin, offensive lineman Caleb Yates, defensive lineman Isaiah Buehler and return specialist Chandler Curtis earned Preseason All-SoCon Second Team honors.

In scoring offense, the Cats continue to lead SoCon scoring offense, with the Bears at #5, averaging 26 points per game. The Cats are #4 in scoring defense, giving up 22.5 points per game, and the Bears rank #1 in that category, only giving up 19 points per game.  Western comes in at #3 in rushing (249 yards), while the Bears are #5 (139 yards) .

With only two games remaining for the Bears, both on the road (WCU & Alabama), the 4-5 Bears are out of the running for both a conference title and an at-large NCAA bid. The Bears scheduled two FBS opponents this year (WCU fans know this game well) which hurt their chances of coming up with the 7 DI wins needed to be considered for an at-large bid. Mercer can only hope to play the role of "spoiler" when they visit Cullowhee next Saturday.  While the Cats have their 7 wins, most feel that this year 8 may be needed to guarantee a birth, if the Missouri Valley and CAA receive unusually large playoff numbers.

2017 Mercer Statistics (thru 9 games):
Points per game:  26
Rushing Offense: 1475 yards
Yards per game: 139
Yards per rush: 3.6 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 76
TDs rushing: 17
Passing Offense: 1898 yards or 211 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 7.4 yards
Passing 1st downs: 76
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 257-159-7
TDs Passing: 13
Total Offense: 350 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 8 - 5
3d Down Conversions: 44 of 120 (37%)
4th Down Conversions: 4 of 10 (40%)
Field goal - attempts: 7 - 11
PAT-Attempts: 36 of 38 (95%)
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 29 of 31
Red Zone Touchdowns: 22 of 31
Punts - Yards: 48 - 1912



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