Blink and you might have missed the moments before Our Lady of Mercy had Friday night’s game locked down. The Bobcats dominated out of the gate and kept up the pressure in a 56-20 victory over the Strong Rock Christian Patriots.
After what the coaches thought was a lackluster effort in a win last week, this performance was just what the doctor ordered.
“We did not feel like we played very inspired football last Saturday. We challenged our kids all week to try to get it back up to that level,” said Mercy coach Mike Earwood. “They hit it out here tonight in the first half.”
The Bobcats scored on each of their first four possessions, then added one defensively as they piled up a 28-6 lead after one quarter. By the half, the lead was all the way up to 49-14.
Mercy’s offense was seemingly only stopped once the game was out of reach and they let off the gas themselves, racking up 452 total yards, 308 of them on the ground, despite only playing the starters for one half.
“I can’t say enough about the first half that Keegan Jordan, Jameson Vest, and Jordan Thomas had,” praised Earwood. “The credit goes to the offensive line because they were opening some gaping holes.”
Defensively, Mercy was spot on as well. They allowed only 201 total yards, with 45 of them coming on one scoring play. Against the run they were particularly stout, giving up only 30 yards. The showing was particularly impressive as Strong Rock gave them a surprise, switching to a full-blown spread option after running the Wing-T two weeks ago and a one-back set last week.
“We were dead on it,” said Earwood. “We were adjusting on the run. The guys did a great job.”
The Bobcats, now 6-2, get a week off before they embark on a key end of season stretch at home against ELCA and Landmark Christian. The playoffs should already be in the team’s future, but they have the chance to make this season a special one. They’re clicking at just the right time.
“We’ve got two final games that are real slobberknockers. You want to go in with this kind of momentum and this kind of confidence,” Earwood said.
The big plays against Strong Rock kicked off on Mercy’s first possession. Jameson Vest hit Keegan Jordan on a slant route, Jordan racing for a 40-yard touchdown at the game’s first strike.
The ground game stepped up next as Jordan Thomas took a handoff through the middle of the defense, running for an 83-yard touchdown.
Strong Rock got on the board with their next series, using a pair of big passes to trim the deficit to 14-6.
Mercy bounced right back as Vest and Jordan singed the defense again. Jordan got behind the defense where Vest hit him on a 63-yard scoring bomb.
The lone stalled drive of the first half would be salvaged by the special teams and defense. Vest boomed a punt that kept rolling until Terrell Stokes downed it on the one yard line. On Strong Rock’s next play, Rod Sellers stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception for a short touchdown.
The 28-6 lead held until early in the second quarter when Lawrence Tillman took a jet sweep and burned the defense for a 23-yard scoring run. Vest tacked onto the lead with a 60-yard run of his own on the first play of the Bobcats next series.
Strong Rock got back on the board with a scoring pass before some fresh faces starting pouring in for Mercy. Austin Ngoddy punched it in from four yards out and Matthew Shupenus stepped in for the extra point to make it a 49-14 game at halftime.
Mercy’s defense scored again to open the second half as Richad Nguyen picked off a pass and returned it for their final score of the night.
Strong Rock got their final points off a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.
Vest had a dominating night, completed 6 of 9 passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, along with 124 yards and a score on 11 carries. He also crushed all five of his kickoffs for touchbacks and was 6 for 6 on extra points.
Jordan Thomas ran for a whopping 105 yards and a score on only four carries for a 26 yards per carry average. Lawrence Tillman added 69 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Keagan Jordan had a monster night out wide, catching three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.