By Madeline Williams
Allied News Sports Correspondent
At Kennedy Catholic’s Butala Stadium on a warm Saturday afternoon, the Mercer Mustangs moved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Region 1-A play with a big 42-16 win over the Kennedy Catholic Golden Eagles.
“Our defense played well (Saturday),” said Mustangs’ head coach Pat McClearn. “On offense, we couldn’t do a few things I thought we could do, but I credit (Kennedy) Coach Donofrio having his kids ready. They gave us some trouble up front.”
The Mustangs got off a to 22-0 lead in the first half off of a one-yard run by senior Luke Leonard, a 36-yard pass from junior quarterback Logan Clarke to senior Jarred Davis, and a 20-yard toss from Clarke to senior Zane O’Brien.
Clarke connected with Leonard to get the two-point conversion after the second touchdown and Clarke ran it in for the other two points after the third TD of the first half. The kick attempt after the first touchdown by sophomore Nate Cameron was no good.
“I think Logan (Clarke) is making some really good reads for us,” McClearn said. “He’s throwing the ball wisely and getting it where it needs to be, but (Saturday) there were a couple different plays where we didn’t get guys holding onto the ball.”
Davis started off the second half in an exciting fashion when he ran back the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Mustangs a 28-0 lead in the opening minute. The extra kick attempt failed.
With just under 12 minutes to play in the game, O’Brien intercepted a Kennedy pass that would set the Mustangs up at the KC 19-yard line. Clarke tossed a six-yard touchdown pass to Leonard to score his third throwing touchdown of the game two plays later. Senior Chase Hoffman would make the extra point to give Mercer a 35-0 lead over Kennedy and put into effect the mercy-rule clock.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Mercer’s sophomore Jonathan Wegryznek scored on a one-yard drive. Hoffman’s kick was good as the Mustangs extended their lead to 42-0.
With just under 10 minutes to play in the game, Kennedy Catholic marched down the field to score their first points of the game. Sophomore Kahliq Ragster connected with senior Jacob Feeney on a 40-yard scoring pass to put the Golden Eagles on the board. Ragster ran in the two-point conversion to give KC 8 points.
KC quickly got the ball back after Mercer fumbled the football on the kickoff. KC’s senior Tyler Moore recovered the ball for the Golden Eagles to put them at first and goal, just three yards shy of the end zone. Ragster scored on a 3-yard run and also scored the 2-point conversion for the Golden Eagles to cut the score to 42-16.
“You know, we lost to Kennedy last year, so it was really easy to get the guys motivated,” McClearn said. “If we won that game last year and won another game near the end of the year, then maybe we could have snuck into the playoffs. (Saturday) was an important game for us.”
The region win for Mercer sets up a battle of the undefeated teams on Friday night against Lakeview (3-0 overall, 1-0 Region 1-A). With the loss, Kennedy Catholic falls to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the Region 1-A play.
“We’ll have a tough test with Lakeview on Friday night,” McClearn said. “I know they shut Franklin out (last Friday night) so it will be a good test for us. We’re coming along and we’re working hard.”