"We stood our lineman up, we moved around. We disguised a lot of coverages, stuff like that," Jaggers said. "And with them going no-huddle, it's not very fast-paced, so we were able to show one look in the secondary and get in a different one. We did a great job defensively."
Mercer sacked Bowling five times, and the coverage by the Titans' secondary forced Bowling to scramble all night. Bowling hit on five of his first six passes, but he completed just four of his next 11 and did not throw a touchdown pass until late in the game, leaving him eight behind Tim Couch's state career record.
He finished 17 of 26 passing for 176 yards and an interception which was returned for a score, and was held to minus-26 yards rushing.
Cornish complements Mercer's passing game
Meanwhile, sophomore Andrew Cornish went 8-for-14 passing for 136 yards and one touchdown to potentially give Mercer (4-4, 4-0 District 7) a much-needed passing game to complement its potent ground attack.
"It's only his third game to start, so he's only going to get better," Jaggers said.
The Titans scored on their first four possessions to put the game way by halftime, and Cornish helped get Mercer off to a quick start.
After the Cardinals (3-5, 1-3) were forced to punt, Cornish hit tight end Brett Cecil for a 24-yard gain on a second-and-11 play. Four plays later, Jordan Yeast bulled in from six yards out as Mercer led 7-0 with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
Horn's sack on Bowling forced another South Laurel punt, and Cornish hooked up with Cecil again for a 20-yard gain to key a six play, 55-yard rive capped by Yeast's 5-yard scoring run and a 14-0 lead with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
"We knew that was going to be open, so we worked on it all week," Jaggers said of the passes to Cecil. "Brett's got great hands, and we've just got to find a way to get him the ball. He catches it all the time in practice. I haven't been very smart about getting him the ball."
A 37-yard screen pass from Cornish to John T. Linton gave Mercer a first down at the South Laurel 41 late in the second quarter. Four plays later, Yeast came out of the backfield wide open and Cornish found him for a 23-yard score and 21-0 lead. Yeast ran for 70 of 73 yards in the first half and had two catches for 29 yards.
Mercer's defense got a score on the Cardinal's next possession.
Horn sacked Bowling for an 8-yard loss, then the Mercer pressure forced Bowling to throw the ball right to Zachary Smith, who waltzed in for a 5-yard touchdown.
John T. Linton, who had 49 yards on five carries, closed out the half with a 12-yard scoring run as the Titans led 34-0.
Mercer had 228 yards at the half and 384 for the game. South had 109 total yards in the first half, and had 11 rushing plays for one yard or less while giving up four sacks. The Cardinals finished with 247 yards Friday.
Matthew McCloud's 15-yard touchdown run and a 21-yard scoring run by Austin Vaughn made it 48-0 in the third quarter, and the running clock rule came into play.
Mercer - Jordan Yeast 6 run (Kyle Chadwick kick), 6:49.
Mercer - Yeast 5 run (Chadwick kick), :54.
Mercer - Andrew Cornish 23 pass to Yeast (Chadwick kick), 5:40.
Mercer - Zachary Smith 5 interception return (kick failed), 5:40.
Mercer - John T. Linton 12 run (Chadwick kick), 1:56.
Mercer - Matthew McCloud 15 run (Chadwick kick), 9:28.
Mercer - Austin Vaughn 21 run (Adam Goodlett kick), 6:36.
South Laurel - Tyler Vaughn 6 run (Jake Cobb pass from Ricky Bowling), 11:04.
South Laurel - Bowling 23 pass to J.D. Wright (pass failed), 2:46.
RUSHING - Mercer, Jordan Yeast 11-73, John T. Linton 5-49, James Morris 1-45, Nick Reed 1-23, Austin Vaughn 1-21, Matthew McCloud 4-19, Tyler Rainey 2-6, J.D. Gilliam 1-4, Donovan Ellis 1-3, team 1-3, Andrew Cornish 2-2. South Laurel, Stephen Quillen 7-54, Tyler Vaughn 6-43, Ricky Bowling 12-minus 26.
PASSING - Mercer, Cornish 8-14-0-136. South Laurel, Bowling 17-26-1-176.
RECEIVING - Mercer, Bret Cecil 2-44, Yeast 2-29, McCloud 2-17, Linton 1-37, Jake Mayes 1-9. South Laurel, Chris Mitchell 4-38, Jake Cobb 4-21, Blake Fields 2-44, J.D. Wright 2-31, Quillen 2-19, Kody Baker 2-12, Brandon Hacker 1-11.MERCER1420140-- 48S. LAUREL00014-- 14MERCERS. LAURELFirst Downs1613Rushes-Yards27-24826-71Passing384247Total Yards346166Comp-Att-Int8-14-017-26-1Fumbles - Lost3-12-1Penalties-Yards9-719-75