Mercer County stopped at Gibson City

Staff reports
The Golden Eagle offensive line gives quarterback Brett Anderson time to throw Saturday against Gibson City.

The Mercer County football team's playoff run ended Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, in Gibson City. The Falcons defeated the Golden Eagles 60-19.

"We needed to come out and play with emotion today and we just didn't do it," said senior Jordan Willits. "They were the better team today."

The Falcons got on the board early in the contest as quarterback Stephan Birt scored on a a one-yard dive with 9:39 remaining in the first quarter. The key play of the 52-yard drive was a 32-yard pass from Birt to Cody Gaesser.

Mercer County's initial drive started out deep in their own territory. Brett Anderson completd passes of 15, 10 and seven yards to Kyle Pittman, Cale Muske and Tanner Benson but the Golden Eagles were forced to punt when Anderson was sacked for an 11-yard loss.

On the Falcons first play following the punt Michael Romshek ran 62 yards for a touchdown. Romshek's conversion run gave the Falcons a 14-0 lead with 4:58 remaining.

The two teams exchanged possessions and then turnovers.

Kyle Pittman came up with a fumble to stem a Falcon drive. But Mercer County turned it over on the next play as a Brett Anderson pass went through Cale Muske's hands into the arms of Stephan Birt.

Gibson City scored two plays later. Gaesser picked up 21 yards on a run and Romshek scored on a 34-yard run to give Gibson City a 22-0 lead at the 10:18 mark.

Mercer County's offense failed to convert a first down and Gibson City once again took advantage. Birt connected on a pair of 34-yard passes to Gaesser, the second one for a touchdown giving the Falcons a 30-0 lead.

Mercer County got on the board on its next drive as Anderson hit Muske on a 55-yard pass for a touchdown. The conversion pass fell incomplete and Mercer County cut the Falcons lead to 30-6.

Gibson City answered with Romshek. He burst free for runs of 23 and 27 yards before scoring on an eight-yard run to give the Falcons 36-6 lead.

Romshek had 230 yards rushing on 17 carries at halftime.

"Romshek is a good ballplayer. Our goal was to stop him. We didn't take care of business like we needed to," said Mercer County Coach Nat Zunkel following the game. "We knew they could run the ball. We didn't defend like we had planned. They had one negative play the entire game. We had a lot more than that."

Mercer County gained some momenteum going into halftime as Anderson went to work in the air. He hit Pittman for a 30-yard gain and Ethan Ball with a 30 -yard touchdown pass with 40.5 seconds remaining before the half.

Gibson City led 36-12 at the half.

The Falcons took the initiave in the third quarter scoring three defensive touchdowns in a span of a little more than a minute. Jordyn Schultz blocked a Brandon Dixon punt and returned it for a touchdown. Birt returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown and Romshek returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown. The final score left Mercer County in the hole 54-12.

"They scored three times in about three minutes in the third quarter. That was especially hard when we were already down three scores," said Zunkel.

Gibson City scored one more time in the fourth quarter as Trevor Smith scored from five yards out.

Mercer County got on the board one more time at the end of the game.

Anderson led the drive hitting Ethan Ball on 10- and 15-yard passes. Ball scored on a one-yard drive with 26.3 seconds remaining in the contest.

Mercer County finished the season with an 8-3 record. Gibson City will travel to play at Kewanee against Annawan Wethersfield this weekend.