Our Lady of Mercy had their chance to finally beat Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. Instead, the win slipped away late in a 19-11 loss to the Chargers. On a night when they had to battle a tough team and some questionable officiating, they just couldn’t hold on.
As expected, ELCA played like a team way better than the 2-6 record they sported coming into the game. They were bruised and battered by a brutal non-region schedule of higher classification teams. Now back on their own level, they are playing like the perennial contenders most fans are used to.
Mercy also looked like a different bunch than ELCA was probably expecting. ELCA has long controlled their region matchup. In fact, last year was their closest meeting, when Mercy lost 32-6. The Bobcats served noticed that they are not just more competitive, they are every bit as good as one of the best. With a few different breaks, the scoreboard would have shown it too.
In a defensive slugfest, Mercy would score the first offensive blow. The Bobcats started their second series with great field position after a Charles Oakley sack stalled the Chargers and a poor punt didn’t make it to midfield. Jameson Vest moved the chains on 3rd and 11, scrambling and hitting a sliding Keagan Jordan for 21 yards. Vest drilled a 38-yard field goal to open the scoring at 3-0.
ELCA got on the board when the refs spotted Mercy short of a first down on what looked like a successful fake punt attempt. The Chargers started right at midfield and didn’t waste it, capping it off with a short touchdown pass. The extra point failed, making it a 6-3 game.
Mercy’s next drive was short-circuited when a third and short became a third and long after the officials threw a flag for the rarely-seen infraction of a player lining up without his mouthpiece in.
The Bobcat pass rush continued its big night on the next series with a pair of sacks. First, Dwight Robins and Rod Sellers teamed up to force a 3rd and 24. Jordan Thomas charged through for a sack and a 19-yard loss to push them well out of scoring range.
The 6-3 ELCA lead would hold until Mercy’s first possession of the second half. Vest converted another long third down, connecting with Keagan Jordan for 26 yards. He would also punch it in from one yard out for a score. Mercy’s extra point attempt would be no good, giving them a 9-6 lead.
ELCA would hand them their next points. After a host of Bobcats, including Jordan Atkinson and Justin Emerson, teamed up for another sack, the Chargers were forced to punt. The long snap sailed far over the punter’s head and back into the end zone for a safety and an 11-6 lead.
Mercy would be unable to tack onto the safety when their drive stalled and the windy conditions helped push Vest’s 40-yard field goal attempt off the mark.
Sellers squashed the next ELCA series with a huge sack, but the Chargers would use their own defense to get back in the driver seat. On the following series, an ELCA defender jumped a screen pass for an interception, setting his offense up just outside the red zone. They didn’t waste it, scoring on a 25-yard pass to grab a 12-11 lead with seven minutes left.
Mercy would not get past midfield on their following possession, while ELCA padded their lead at 19-11 with a 15-yard touchdown on 4th and goal from the 15. The Bobcats tried a last-ditch drive, but their hail mary wasn’t answered.
Up next, the Bobcats get another chance to show they deserve to be considered a contender. They will host Landmark Christian in what has become a heated rivalry in recent years. The last two meetings have been thrillers, with Landmark winning both by a total of seven points. For Mercy to take that next step, they will need to shake off the tough ELCA loss and upend the always-formidable War Eagles. They surely won’t get any sympathy from them, just another solid, winning football team.