Mercer quarterback Robert Riddle passed for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth as the Bears overwhelmed Presbyterian, 45-7, in the Blue Hose’ season opener at Bailey Memorial Stadium on a hot Saturday afternoon.
The Bears removed any doubt of the outcome early, scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter. The last, 95 yards from Riddle to Rob Lake, with 5:48 remaining in the period, was a crusher.
Trailing 42-0, Presbyterian (0-1) got on the board with 6:04 left in the game on Zola Davis’s one-yard run. Keith Pearson led the Blue Hose wide-outs with seven catches for 64 yards, while Colby Campbell led the PC defense with 13 tackles and 3-1/2 for loss.
Redshirt sophomore Brandon Thompsonmade his first career start as a Blue Hose at quarterback and passed for 150 yards and also ran for a team-high 76 yards.
Mercer (2-0) had begun the season with a 49-27 victory at Western Carolina. PC’s originally scheduled opener was Aug. 31 at Stetson, but that game was canceled due to potential weather difficulties in DeLand, Fla. Mercer needed a 12th game, so the schools announced they would play in Clinton on Tuesday morning.
Riddle completed 18 of 27 passes for 325 yards. Tucker Cannon caught seven for 144 yards.
Zola Davis scored the lone Blue Hose touchdown but gained only seven net yards in 11 carries.
Mercer outpassed PC, 368-194 in yards, and 180-106 in rushing. Mercer averaged 9.1 yards for each of its 60 plays. The Blue Hose ran 74 plays and averaged 4.1. Total offense stacked up in the Bears’ favor, 548-300.
Oddly, Presbyterian had a massive advantage in time of possession, 37:09-22:51.
The Blue Hose continue their three-game homestand next Saturday as they welcome in Jacksonville (Fla.) to Bailey Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN+.