By John Keuler
Our Lady of Mercy played in front of a number of alumni this past weekend for Homecoming. They made sure that anyone from the early years of the school when the team struggled did not recognize the talented team they were watching.
The Bobcats won in convincing fashion 42-14 against what Coach Mike Earwood says was a good team in Mount Pisgah Christian. “Just looking at their scheme, it is very tough. They’ve got two quarterbacks that can throw the ball very well. They've got some supporting linemen that are pretty good. So when you look at it all they’re a good team. I’m very proud.”
From the very start Mt. Pisgah looked like the team that Earwood talked about. They quickly marched down the field behind a 60 yard run from their quarterback Jacob Delk. The opening points of the game came two plays later on a touchdown pass from Delk to his running back Austin Harper. Harper, serving as the kicker, put the extra point through the uprights, making the score 7-0 with 10:21 in the 1st quarter.
On Our Lady of Mercy’s ensuing possession they appeared to respond emphatically. Kalon Anthony had a 71-yard touchdown run on the Bobcats’ first offensive play called back for an illegal block in the back. However, the following snap produced six points as Chauncey Laboo went the remaining distance to tie the game at seven points apiece.
Mt. Pisgah moved the ball to their own 46 yard line during their possesion before a Kyle Wilkins sack brought them back 12 yards and killed the drive, forcing a punt.
OLM steadily drove down the field and Rashard Fant came through on a big third down play, leaping to grab his sole reception from quarterback Dylan Terrell for nine yards, extending the drive into Mt. Pisgah territory. A couple of plays later Alex Willard hauled in a 21 yard toss which got Albert Wilson in range to run it in from six yards for his first touchdown of the night.
The Bobcats defense then forced their first takeaway of the night as Lynix Branch applied pressure to rush a throw, which helped Delfayeo Matthews to come down with the interception. The Pisgah defense held strong after the interception allowing only one first down before the Bobcats were forced to punt.
The Mercy offense, known for their ability to score quickly, proceeded to put up 21 points in only three offensive plays that took just 3 minutes and 42 seconds off of the clock. The first touchdown in the trio of rapid fire scores came in the form of a 53 yard run by Kalon Anthony that saw him bounce off the line and cutback all the way back across the field to find the end zone. The following extra point by Jarrett Goodly who was perfect on the night gave OLM the lead 21-7 with 5:16 remaining in the half. It took only one minute and 50 seconds for Mercy to find the end zone once more as the Eagle offense sputtered with a three plays and a punt. Rashard Fant nearly broke through a tackle on the punt return for a touchdown but the defender managed to drag him down by his jersey after a 32 yard return. Our Lady of Mercy, not to be denied, gave the ball to Chauncey Laboo who went around the left side of the line untouched and down the sideline 32 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the night.
Mercy’s next offensive possession once again consisted of only one play, a rush by Fant who made a number of defenders miss to go 70 yards, completing the scoring for the half.
OLM started on offense in the second half, only to be forced to punt. However, Mt. Pisgah botched the punt return and the Bobcats recovered the fumble at the Mt. Pisgah’s own 19 yard line. Mercy failed at first to punch it in for the score but were able to draw the Eagles offside on fourth down for a five yard penalty and a first down. This gave Albert Wilson the opportunity to run in for the touchdown two plays later making the score 42-7 with 4:42 left in the 3rd quarter.
After trading punts and a turnover committed by each team, Mt. Pisgah was able to score on a fourth down on an 11 yard throw down the middle of the field. This left the score at 42-14 as the clock ran out, giving Our Lady of Mercy the win and making them 3-0 and leaving the Mt. Pisgah Christian Eagles at 2-1 on the young season.
The Bobcats victories have both (the third coming via forfeit) been lopsided outcomes with much credit due to Mercy’s defense, which allowed only 154 total yards to the Eagles. These two victories have given OLM confidence moving forward according to Coach Mike Earwood, “I think we’ve turned a corner. They’re following exactly the path that we challenged them to follow this year. This year what I’ve challenged them to do is not only keep going down that path but that when we get to the teams that are top 10 we need to learn how to compete, to get the game to the 4th quarter.”
Our Lady of Mercy faces a team of the sort that Coach Earwood speaks of next week in Athens Academy. They were a state playoff team a year ago and go into the game next week standing at 2-0. However, Coach Earwood likes the way his team is playing and is confident in their ability to compete. “We’ve got a good team and I fully expect that we’ll go over there and compete and believe. That’s how you begin to put yourself in the top programs in the state. You’ve got to believe and you’ve got to compete. And if we do that we’ve got a chance to beat a lot of people.”