Oct. 5, 2013
(San Diego, Calif.) - The USD Toreros improved to 2-0 in PFL play with today's convincing 45-13 victory as they handed the Mercer Bears (4-1, 1-1 PFL) their first loss of the season after bringing back football for the first time since 1941. Senior quarterback Mason Mills was nearly perfect on the day as he completed 23-of-27 passes for 413 yards and 3 touchdowns. At the end of the first period with USD ahead 21-7, Mills' stat line was 9-for-9 for 184 yards and 2 touchdown passes. With his fourth completion of the day, a 5-yarder to Sam Hoekstra in the team's second series, Mills became the program's all-time leader in completions. Now with 744 career completions, he passed by Josh Johnson who held the previous mark of 724 (2004-2007).
Senior Kenn James began the game by returning the opening kickoff 95 yards for a 7-0 lead. The 95-yard return was the fifth longest in program history. After the Torero defense held Mercer in check on their first series, the Toreros struck again, this time with Mills connecting with Sam Hoekstra for a 46-yard touchdown that culminated a 5-play, 83-yard drive. Mercer responded with a trick play as receiver Josh Jones took a pitch on a reverse play and tossed a 28-yard pass to a wide open J.T. Palmer to pull within 14-7. Mills closed out his perfect first period by connecting with Reggie Bell for an 11-yard strike and 21-7 advantage.
In the second period the Torero defense held Mercer to two field goals by Tyler Zielenske (20 & 36 yards), while Torero running back Joe Ferguson blasted in from 2-yards out for another Torero score. Both teams went into the locker room at halftime with the score 28-13 USD. In the second half the Torero defense pitched a shutout while the Toreros scored on two 50-yard plays. With 2:26 left in the third period, Brandon White hauled in a 50-yarder from Mills. With 9:10 left in the game, Kenn James closed out the scoring for the day with a 50-yard touchdown run.
Mercer came into the game averaging 43.8 points and 456.5 yards of total offense, with their defense holding opponents to just 13.5 points and 241.5 yards. The Torero defense was up to the challenge as they limited the Bears to just 295 yards of offense (107 rush, 122 pass). Senior captain Robbie Beathard led the way with 7 tackles, and 2 pass break-ups. Zach Devaney chipped in with 7 tackles, while senior defensive end added 6 tackles, 1 sack (-7 yards), 2 tackles for loss (-9) and 1 quarterback hurry. Free safety Matt Miller added 6 stops and corner Toney Sawyer finished with 5 tackles and an interception.
Other offensive stars besides Mills and the entire offensive line included James (86 yards rushing, 1 TD), Reggie Bell (7 catches for 127 yards, 1 TD), Brandon White (6 receptions for 111 yards, 1 TD) and Sam Hoekstra (4 catches for 121 yards, 1 TD). Freshman punter Ryan Belden averaged 51.8 yards on 4 punts, including an 80-yarder on his first attempt. That ranks second best all-time at USD with the record held by Vern Valdez (85 yards vs. Mexico Poly in 1957).
USD, which has now won eight straight PFL games dating back to last season, will take on Marist College next Saturday, October 12th, in a 2:00 pm contest that will be USD's Homecoming/Family Weekend.