Mercer County tames Cougars, 38-15

Robert Blackford/Editor
Mark VanderHeyden ran for 243 yards against Mid County on Friday night.

The Mercer County Golden Eagles beat the Mid County Cougars 38-15 Friday night to improve to 3-1 on the season. Mid County fell to 1-3 overall.

It was the Mark VanderHeyden show especially in the second half. The senior ran for 243 yards on 17 carries for Mercer County including a 90 yard run for his sole touchdown.

"The line gave me some big holes," said VanderHeyden after the game. I got some great blocks downfield tonight. They coach us to work hard and that's what we did tonight.

While the Golden Eagles won by 23 points and were ahead by 30 points at one time the score was tied at 8-8 at the half.

"We could have been up three scores," said Golden Eagle quarterback Spencer Wood. "We had some stupid penalties. the last couple of weeks in the red zone."

The Golden Eagles first drive was nearly perfect with big runs of eight and 14 yards from Matt Weeks and an 11 yard pass from Spencer Wood to Blake Russell. Matt Weeks scored on a five yard run with 7:02 in the first quarter. Wood's pass to Ashton Klingaman gave Mercer County a 8-0 lead.

The Cougars answered with 8:17 remaining in the second quarter. Mid County completed a 16 play drive when Conner Kelly completed a 13 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Woodside. The pass from Kelly to Woodside was good on the conversion and the game was tied at 8-8.

The Golden Eagles had two other scoring drives stopped in the second quarter on penalties and a turnover.

The Golden Eagles scored on their first possession of the third quarter. completing a 65 yard drive at the 9:24 mark. Matt Weeks caught a 25 yard pass on the drive and scored on a five yard run. Wood's pass on the conversion to Kale Moreland gave Mercer County a 16-8 lead.

The Golden Eagles scored again on a 14 yard run by Curtis VanWinkle with 5:36 left. The touchdown was setup by a 52 yard run by VanderHeyden. Wood completed the conversion with a pass to Klingaman and Mercer County led 24-8.

After the Golden Eagle defense held Mid County to a three and out the Golden Eagles found themselves at their own 10 yard line after a penalty on the preceding punt. VanderHeyden made it all up at once with a 90 yard touchdown run at the 3:07 mark. Mercer County led 32-8 after Wood completed the conversion pass to Moreland.

"The line did a great job," said VanderHeyden. "We blocked their linebackers and it turned into a touchdown."

"He's a very special player," said Zunkel about VanderHeyden. If we can get body-on-body blocking he's going to go far. He's definitely the most improved player from his junior to senior year."

The Cougars weren't finished yet and scored on a 67 yard run by Brad Tomlin with 8:18 remaining.

"Once we get out of our own way we play pretty well," said Golden Eagle Head Coach Nat Zunkel. "We are on the cusp of being a great team.

"The defensive line did pretty well," said Golden Eagle lineman Tanner Heath. "The offensive line is going to have to step it up next week against Stark County. In the first half we (the defense) played real well. It was a good all around game, my best."