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Written by: John Robbins on Sunday, August 29th, 2021
Senior Quarterback Ethan Wiley leaps over banner before facing Kennedy Catholic. Photo by Sykotyk.
The 2021 season opener for the Mercer Mustangs and the Kennedy Catholic Golden
Eagles did not disappoint with its theatrics. Mercer prevailed 45-16 despite committing five turnovers and only getting one third down conversion.
Mercer faced that adversity early when Kennedy Catholic’s sophomore defensive back and wide receiver Simeir Wade stripped the ball right from Mercer. Then on the Mustangs’ next offensive drive, senior tight end and guard Mike Stabile went down with a tragic ankle injury. He was taken off the field in an ambulance after an air cast was applied. The following play after the thirty minute injury stoppage, Mercer scored when senior quarterback Ethan Wiley threw a short lob pass to senior running back Logan Turton. He took the pass and ran fifteen yards to the endzone. Kennedy Catholic’s special teams jumped offside on the point after attempt. Mercer decided to go for two and converted when senior running back Jake Badger burst into the end zone to put them up 8-0.
Senior Running Back Jake Badger running the football. Photos by Sykotyk.
Mercer would profit from Kennedy’s mistakes when a pass interference set up a nineteen yard rushing touchdown by junior running back Nathan Haines. Mercer would make a blunder of their own with an invalid fair catch signal. The punt would be muffed and picked up by Kennedy Catholic. On the very next play, the Golden Eagles would fumble the ball and turn it over. The end of the first quarter would include another turnover for Mercer caused by Wade.
This time he would intercept the ball at the goal line, tip toe the sideline for ten yards. That left the score 16-0 at the end of the first.
The second quarter was quieter early on. Then Mercer forced a punt and would score
with just over a minute left in the second quarter. Senior running back Jake Badger scored on powerful thirteen yard run to go up 30-0 at half. Kennedy Catholic continued to make mistakes in the second half. Mercer’s defensive line forced freshman quarterback Rayvion Wilbon-Venable to run out the back of the endzone for a safety. That extended the Mustangs lead to thirty-two. It only took Mercer thirteen seconds
of game time to score after the safety. Wiley would find senior receiver Dominick Pugh in the middle of the field. Pugh would fumble the ball forward where Turton found it, picked it up, and ran forward into the endzone ending up in a forty-eight yard touchdown to go up 39-0. Kennedy Catholic would respond when Wilbon-Venable earned his first varsity touchdown and found Sean Yeager for a nineteen yard touchdown. Kennedy would score the two-point conversion and shrink the lead to 39-8 at the end of the third.
Ethan Wiley for Mercer looks to throw while Sophomore Defensive Tackle Elias Lawson for Kennedy Catholic sheds a block. Photo by Sykotyk.
After that play, Rayvion
found his stride and made what was almost a twenty yard sack into a twenty-five yard gain to Mercer’s five yard line. Then another Golden Eagles mistake would make that effort irrelevant as a handoff would be fumbled and recovered by the Mustangs.
Kennedy Catholic would start producing in the fourth quarter but it would ultimately be
too little, too late. Wilbon-Venable would find Wade for a forty-six yard touchdown pass. They completed another pass to Jermaine Dunlap for the two-point conversion which would shrink the lead further to 39-16.
Mercer would slam the door shut on Kennedy when Badger found the end zone after a ten yard run. Mercer would win 45-16 after three hours and twenty-seven minutes of football. Mercer travels to Farrell next weekend, while Kennedy Catholic goes to Reynolds.
For more, and larger, photos from this game, click HERE. (page 2)
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