MACON, Ga. – John Russ had 292 total yards, ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more to lead Mercer over Valparaiso 35-21 on Saturday.
Mercer (5-1, 2-1 Pioneer Football League) entered the game ranked near the top of the FCS in both rushing offense and defense. The Bears dominated Valparaiso on the ground, outgaining them 286-44.
Payton Usher, a recent addition to the Jerry Rice Award watch list, had 109 yards on 19 carries. Russ ran 18 times for 100 yards and was 9 of 17 for 192 yards.
Russ put Mercer ahead for good with 1:49 left in the first half when he connected with Robert Brown for a 25-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 21-14 lead.
Tanner Kuramata had 9 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns for Valparaiso (1-5, 1-2). The Crusaders are still searching of their first season with multiple wins since 2008.