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Friday February 12th, 2016 12:43AM

Mercer beats Drake 31-17

By The Associated Press
MACON -- John Russ threw for a touchdown and rushed for two more to lead Mercer 31-17 over Drake in a Pioneer Conference opener on Saturday.

Russ was 9 of 23 for 172 yards and one touchdown. He also scored a pair of rushing touchdowns including one for 44 yards. Mercer (4-0, 1-0 Pioneer) had a total of 161 rushing yards led by Payton Usher who rushed 22 times for 90 yards. Usher is 13th-ranked, FCS, for rushing yards per game after a career-high 154 yards on 12 carries last week against Berry College.

The Bears defense held Drake to just 69 rushing yards, forced three Bulldog fumbles and intercepted Drake QB Andy Rice four times including a 35-yard touchdown return by Aaron Avant in the second quarter.

Mercer came into the game leading the FCS in defense, giving up an average of just over 209 yards per game.
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