The APSU Governors football team started out the 2015 season at home with their 24th loss in 25 games to Mercer University Bears (28-7) on Saturday, Sept. 5.
Permeating through the thick grey clouds, a sea of red and white filled the landscape of Governors Stadium.
With 30 minutes prior to game time, the weather showed itself with a little thunder and lightning, delaying the start of the game.
After failing to capitalize on a plethora of turnovers, the Govs fell to the Bears (28-7).
When APSU played at Mercer last season, the Govs fell 28-0 in just the first half.
In the first quarter, the Govs defense began when junior Damien Whitfield forced a fumble inside the 40-yard line.
The Govs went three and out, forcing the defense back onto the field.
Freshman punter Nolan Chowbay filled in for injured punter senior Evan Toby.
Chowbay attempted a fake punt but was unsuccessful at the line of scrimmage, giving Mercer an excellent field position.
The end of the first quarter had a 0-0 tie.
Early in the second quarter, Mercer took 11 plays and 73 yards to take a 7-0 lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Govs found themselves trapped deep with their backs at their own end zone.
A pair of passes to freshmen Juwan Davis and Jim Irwin pushed the Govs to midfield. A Mercer personal foul penalty allowed the Govs to get into Bear territory.
A strong Bears defense stopped the Govs’ momentum, forcing Chowbay to punt.
Despite a few penalties for the Govs, APSU eventually evened the score due to senior quarterback Trey Taylor on a 22-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Jared Beard.
Over the course of the game, Beard combined for a total of seven catches for 85 yards. During the first half, Mercer’s offense led APSU with 21 attempts for 107 yards, compared to the Govs’ 17 attempts and only 28 yards.
Opening the second half, Mercer picked up the tempo and their passing game.
The Bears eventually capped off a 62-yard drive in nine plays with a one-yard touchdown run, making it a score of 14-7.
After the Govs got the ball back, they gave it to Mercer at midfield when the Bears blocked a punt.
APSU held Mercer to only an attempted field goal, but for the second straight attempt, Mercer’s kicker missed from 45 yards out, giving the Govs another opportunity to stay in the game.
The Govs started out the fourth quarter with a good field position, but Taylor’s pass took a bad bounce off of sophomore Otis Gerron’s hands and landed in the arms of a Mercer defender.
This set the tone for the rest of the game.
Mercer showed no pity when they drove the ball through the heart of the Governor’s defense to score another touchdown making it a score of 21-7.
Just when the game seemed to be coming to an end, Mercer added some breathing room to the score, making it a final of 28-7 with 1:49 left to go.
Despite the 21-point deficit, Taylor defeated Mercer’s quarterback 188 yards to 176.
“I thought our kids showed some mental and physical toughness,” said APSU head coach Kirby Cannon.
Cannon said despite an increased effort, the team needs to step it up.
“It was certainly a different performance than we had a year ago,” Cannon said. “In that regard, we’re much improved on both sides of the ball, in some ways. But the offensive effort we had tonight isn’t going to win many games.”