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Quarterback Ryan Tentler
Big Plays Lead Mercer Past Stetson
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  11/23/2013
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MACON, Ga.—Mercer’s big-play offense gained 455 yards, including 316 on the ground, as the Bears handed Stetson a season-ending 41-14 defeat in Pioneer Football League action, Saturday at Anderson Field.

The Bears (10-2 overall, 6-2 PFL), who set an NCAA standard for wins by a first-year program with 10, scored touchdowns on plays of 37, 32, 49 and 52 yards.

The third quarter was Stetson’s undoing. After closing to within 17-14 at the end of the second quarter, the Hatters were out-gained 158-12 in the third when Mercer scored 17 unanswered points.

“We came out flat, said quarterback Ryan Tentler. “That has happened to us all year where we have been in the game and then when we come out after the half we are flat and, before we know it, the game is over. We have to pick up our intensity and learn how to finish games. That is what we are going to do to get ready for next year.”

Head coach Roger Hughes had said a variety of things went wrong for Stetson in the second half.

“We didn’t do a very good job on our first series, and then they went down and scored,” said Hughes. “Then we fumbled and the momentum started cascading. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively in the second half, and it was everything. One time I had them in the wrong formation, one time we don’t catch the ball, another time a pass is low, another time we miss a block. Those are the kinds of things that happen when you aren’t executing like you need to.”

Leading 17-14 to start the second half, Mercer stretched its advantage to 24-14 on its first drive when JaTerii Donald took a screen pass and powered his way for a touchdown with 11:21 to play in the third.

Stetson’s Dre Long fumbled the first play on the ensuing drive. Mercer recovered and four plays later Zielenske converted a 27 yard field goal for a 27-14 advantage 9:02 left in the third.

Bears quarterback John Russ scored on a 52-yard touchdown run with 3:38 remaining in the quarter, stretching Mercer’s lead to 34-14

Mercer tacked on a final touchdown with 5:07 left in the game when Caleb Brown scored on a two-yard run, capping an 11-play, 81-yard drive.

The Bears opened the scoring when Tyler Zielenske capped a 13-play, 66-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal with 8:59 left in the first quarter for a 3-0 lead.

After going three-and-out on their first possession the Hatters (2-9, 1-7) marched 86 yards in 11 plays on their next drive, with Tentler connecting on a 21-yard touchdown pass to Chris Crawford on the first play of the second quarter. Tentler kept the drive alive when he converted on fourth-and-1 from the Mercer 27.

Mercer turned the ball over on its next possessions, but wasted no time regaining the lead on their next opportunity. On their third play, Donald broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run with 7:39 left in the second quarter. The extra point gave the Bears a 10-7 lead.

The Bears quickly added to their lead. After Mercer’s Corey Lockett intercepted Tentler at the Stetson 42 and returned it 10 yards, Russ caught a halfback pass from Josh Jones and raced 32 yards for a score. With 6:26 left in the half, Mercer led 17-7.

But the Hatters responded right away. Tentler directed a 15-play, 71-yard drive which culminated in a three yard pass from Tentler to James LaSala in the back left corner of the end zone with 11 seconds left in the half. The drive featured a pair of fourth down conversions, and pulled Stetson within 17-14 at halftime.

Tentler completed 13 of 15 passes in the first half for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He finished the game 19-of-28 passing for 138 yards and two touchdowns., while also rushing nine times for 25 yards.

Darius McGriff caught five passes for 70 yards, and Crawford had six receptions for 45 yards.

Russ caught a touchdown pass, ran one in and also caught a TD pass. He passed for 107 yards and rushed for 139 more. Donald carried 17 times for 135 yards.

Dave Lazear led the defense with 11 tackles including 1.5 sacks.

Stetson at Mercer Game Notes
• Combined, Mercer and Stetson have only nine non-freshmen on their respective rosters for today’s game. Mercer has seven non-freshmen and Stetson has two.
Dre Long made his first start at running back since the season opener for the Hatters. It is the fifth consecutive game in which the Hatters have started a different player at running back.
Chris Crawford recorded his first TD catch of the season in the second quarter on a 21-yard pass from Ryan Tentler.
Nick LaSala also scored his first TD reception on a three-yard pass from Tentler late in the first half.
• The Hatters finished the season with nine players recording TD reception.
• Stetson was 4-of-5 on fourth down attempts in the game, running their total over the last five games to 13-of-17 conversions on fourth down.

Stetson Football