In the cutthroat game of football, there’s no room to take it easy on your foe. No mercy. Facing a rival in the midst of a trying season, Our Lady of Mercy (3-3) went on the road and spoiled (0-6) Landmark Christian’s homecoming with a dominant 46-13 victory. The win marks the second time the Bobcats came out on top in their battles with the War Eagles.
“This is our rivalry game. We’re right down the road from each other, and historically they’ve gotten the better of us,” said Mercy coach Jamie Aull. “It feels like this is a good thing for Our Lady of Mercy and our football program to win tonight.”
The win was extra sweet for the senior class who had already lost three times to Landmark. They turned a close first half into a Bobcat rout.
“That’s just a testament to how hard we worked on the small things,” said senior quarterback Javon Henderson. “We went into the half and made a lot of corrections, and we came out and executed those corrections.”
The first quarter was filled with missed opportunities for both sides. Landmark drove deep into Mercy territory on their opening drive, but couldn’t convert on 4th and inches. The Bobcats strung together a promising drive of their own, Javon Henderson hitting Tyler Hill for a 33-yard pickup off a screen, then they converted a 4th and 8 with a Tyson Meiguez 22-yard catch and run. The drive stalled, and they settled for a short field goal attempt, but Landmark burst through the line to block it. The War Eagles sputtered on their next chance, punting it away to Taj Dodson who returned it all the way back, but his touchdown was called back.
Mercy found success all night with outside screens, and they used it to break the scoreless tie early in the second quarter. Caleb Pressley took one for 27 yards, and Meiguez went 49 yards for the opening touchdown on his turn.
Midway through the second, Landmark was in prime position to get on the board after Mercy punted the ball off their own team to give up the ball on their own 10. The War Eagles found no traction and turned the ball over on downs.
The Bobcats fed off the momentum, going to the jet sweep that would frustrate the War Eagles all night. Dodson goes in motion from his wide receiver spot to take the handoff from the quarterback and heads for the edge. His first big pickup came on the first snap after the turnover on downs, Dodson racing for a 90-yard touchdown. A failed two-point conversion attempt made it a 12-0 game.
“We saw something we liked on film. We felt like if we could get him to the edge, we could get him in the end zone,” said Aull. “He’s a great athlete, he’s a track guy. When you get him in space, he’s going to run away from people.”
Landmark responded. On their first snap, freshman quarterback Jax Fisher lofted it deep over the top, targeting Bernard Turner just past the leaping cornerback. Turner took it it the rest of the way for a 44-yard touchdown. The extra point was missed to pull within 12-6.
Coming out of the half, it looked like Landmark was reenergized. On the first snap, Donovan Pickett took it up the gut and shed several tacklers, sprinting 73-yards for a touchdown and a 13-12 lead.
In year’s past, a big play like that might have sunk the Bobcats in their rivalry game. Not this time. They answered back emphatically and just kept rolling. Jake Stevens fielded the short kickoff and took it back to midfield, and Henderson did the rest. On the first snap, he kept the ball on the option read and sprinted for a 50-yard touchdown and an 18-13 lead.
“I really feel like we missed on three or four big shot plays in that first half that kept the game where it was,” said Aull. “We went in the locker room at halftime and made a few adjustments. We saw some matchups we liked, and the guys played their tails off. It was awesome.”
Landmark tried to keep up, but a flag negated a strong kickoff return. The momentum died again with Jake Bodkin and Tyler Hill teaming up for a sack.
Dodson did it again for the offense, taking the jet sweep for a 73-yard touchdown. After three unsuccessful extra point and two-point attempts, they got one right with a Devon Wood PAT and a 25-13 lead.
As the game wore on, the Mercy offensive line of Adrain Andrews, Tim Summers, Jalen Moore, Jerrell Smith, and Darren Jackson blew open bigger and bigger holes.
“I took over the offensive line in May, and those guys have bought into everything I’ve asked them to do,” said Aull. “We didn’t play well up front last week. That Strong Rock defensive line kind of dictated tempo to us, and I didn’t like it. I challenged them all week. I fussed and hollered and screamed, and they came out and played hard and followed their rules and did everything right tonight.”
Following a three and out, Mercy hit on another big play. Henderson found Pressley in the flat, and he juked through the defense, Summers laying a crushing block to break him loose for a 56-yard touchdown.
Cameron Browning intercepted a deep attempt on the next Landmark possession, and the Bobcats made it count with a 65-yard scoring drive. A Justin Smith 25-yard reception chewed up a chunk of field, and Dodson finished it off with a 7-yard scoring run, his third of the night.
Dodson credited the vision of his coaches for his big night after they sought to get him more involved in the offense.
“Coach put me at a new position. He put me in the right places,” he said. “He told me I needed to make plays this game.”
Tyler Hill swiped the ball right back on the a fumble recovery. Henderson did the bulk of the work, running for 21 yards on the first snap, and punching it in from seven yards out for the final blow in the 46-13 win.
The high-octane Bobcat offense finished the night with 600 total yards of offense. Javon Henderson completed 9 of 19 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for 139 yards and 2 more scores on 14 attempts. Taj Dodson carried it 9 times for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns. Caleb Pressley caught 2 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, along with 32 yards rushing. Tyson Meiguez caught 4 passes for 77 yards and a score.
Our Lady of Mercy’s tough slate continues this week when they travel to play top ranked ELCA (6-0). Landmark is on bye this week.
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