Fittingly enough, the Titans' defense actually set up the winning score.
First, Mercer held Greeneville on a fourth-and-4 gamble at the Titans' 13-yard line, and the offense picked up two first downs before punting the ball back to the Greene Devils.
Four plays later, Mercer got the ball back by forcing a punt and began the winning drive at the Greeneville 43.
Jordan Yeast, who gained 147 yards on a workmanlike 32 carries, ran the ball four times for 22 yards, and lineman Devan Patton saved the drive by recovering a Yeast fumble at the Greeneville 14.
On third-and-7 at the 14, Yeast drilled a bullet through the arms of a linebacker and Linton made his spectacular one-handed grab in the back of the end zone.
"The ball got tipped or something," Jaggers said. "He's got good hands. He was hurt some by turf toe tonight, but he did a good job playing mostly defense, and then came up with that big catch in the end."
That the winning play came through the air was an ironic twist, considering Short completed only three of nine passes for 5 yards and was intercepted twice. His counterpart from Greeneville, Jordan Greenway, hit two of 14 passes for 40 yards and was also picked off twice.
Josh Carey sealed the win for Mercer by picking off a Greenway pass at the Titans' 20-yard-line with 9 seconds remaining.
Greeneville took the early lead by taking advantage of nice punt return by Jeremy Barner, who fielded the ball at his own 29 and then ran it back to his own 46. Mercer was flagged for 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, moving the ball to the Titans' 31, and two plays later Barner raced almost untouched up the middle for 30 yards and a score.
Mercer answered on its next possession, driving 80 yards in 15 plays and getting on the board when Yeast ran in from the 1. Yeast carried 10 times in the drive for 47 yards, and Kyle Chadwick's extra-point kick gave the Titans a short-lived 7-6 lead.
Greeneville came right back to take the lead on a 28-yard field goal by Chad Castainca with 1:12 remaining in the half to cap off a 34-yard drive. The scoring drive received a big boost from a pass interference call against Mercer, and a 15-yard completion from Greenway to Ryan Fillers that moved the ball to Mercer's 10-yard line.
Mercer had a drive to begin the second half that ended when it failed to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Greene Devils' 3-yard-line, but that was essentially its only real threat until the winning drive.
"Now we know what a tough game's like," Jaggers said. "They're a good football team. They've got a good coach. He won a state championship in North Carolina last year, and they're a very good football team right now."
Mercer gained 238 yards on the ground while allowing 104. Greeneville had 26 yards rushing in the first half, even with the 30-yard-TD run by Barner.
As for what his team may have gained with the tough win, Jaggers cited maturity.
"I think they will grow up. They realize now it's never over until it's over," he said.
Greeneville - Jeremy Barner 30 run (kick blocked), 2:37.
Mercer - Jordan Yeast 1 run (Kyle Chadwick kick), 6:52.
Greeneville - FG 28 Chad Castainca, 1:12.
Mercer- John Linton 14 pass from Trevor Short (Chadwick kick), :36.
RUSHING-Greeneville, Jeremy Barner 15-90, Trevan Hall 3-16, Jordan Greenway 2-4, Grant Jones 1-minus 6. Mercer, Jordan Yeast 32-147, Nathan Griffith 14-68, Matthew McCloud 3-10, Trevor Short 7-10, Keith Brooks 1-2, Alojawan Dean 1-1.
PASSING-Greeneville, Greenway 2-14-2-40. Mercer, Short 3-9-2-5.
RECEIVING-Greeneville, Chad Castainca 1-25, Ryan Fillers 1-15. Mercer, John Linton 1-14, Brooks 1-1, Yeast 1-minus 10.GREENEVILLE6309-- 31MERCER0707-- 14GMCFirst Downs518Rushes21-10456-238Passing405Total Yards144243Comp-Att-Int2-14-23-9-2Fumbles - Lost0-22-1Penalties6-657-70