Rebels run wild, spoil Eagles homecoming, 42-6

John Pulliam
Mercer County's Ben Nichols is stopped on a running play in the first half of the game against Stark County.

The undefeated Stark County Rebels spoiled Mercer County's homecoming Sept. 25, dropping the Golden Eagles, 42-6.

The Eagles played the 5-0 Rebels tough in the first quarter. After Stark County missed a field goal attempt midway through the period, they finally got on the board with 3:22 left. Quarterback John Groter scored from the one and the score went to 7-0 when Karl Wallander kicked the first of his six PATs.

The tide turned quickly, though. A Mercrer County fumble late in the first quarter, then an interception by Stark County just 14 seconds after the Rebels made it 14-0 quickly led to another score and the Eagles were in a 21-0 hole.

Groter and Chase Johnson each scored two touchdowns for Stark County in the first half as its offense had its way with the Eagles.

After the score became 42-0 with 1:07 left in the third quarter, the Mercer County offense showed some life. After advancing to the Stark County 14 on the previous drive, then being stopped on a fourth down run, the Eagles gave the homecoming crowd something to cheer about. Quinton King ran for pay dirt with 6:34 left in the game on a beautiful 83 yard run.

The loss left the Eagles at 2-3 with another tough game Oct. 2 against the Annawan-Wethersfield Titans at Kewanee.

After the game, Mercer County Coach Nat Zunkel was blunt in his talk to the team.

"We were simply whipped," he said. "That's not acceptable. They're a good football team, not a great football team."

Zunkel told the Eagles' players that although they are fighting for their lives "everything we want to do is still accomplishable. We've got to continue to improve."

With three losses, the Eagles playoff hopes are fading. A fourth loss doesn't eliminate Mercer County, but it is tough to make it in at 5-4.

Asked for his feelings about the game, Zunkel told a reporter, "It stinks. You've got to go back to the drawing board."

The coach said the Eagles failed to execute properly.