Joel Murray

Cochranton coach Joel Murray talks with his team during their midnight practice last week. The Cardinals opened their season on Saturday with a 14-12 loss to Mercer.

MERCER — The Cochranton football team came up just a little bit short in its season-opener against Mercer on Saturday, as the Mustangs held on for a 14-12 victory. 

After a scoreless first, Mercer was able to pull out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Mustangs first notched a safety on the Cardinals, when a Cochranton punt snap sailed high and into the end zone.

On Mercer’s next series, quarterback Ethan Wiley hit Aidan Bright for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

Then on the ensuing kickoff, Cochranton fumbled away the return, allowing Mercer to set up shop on the Cardinals’ 23. 

A few plays later, Logan Conner bought the ball into the end zone from one yard out for the touchdown. 

Both attempts by Mercer to run in a point-after-touchdown failed. 

Cochranton was able to get out of the half with a little momentum, however. The Cardinals embarked on a nine-play, 51-yard drive that ended with QB Wyatt Barzak connecting withe Kendrick Hostetler for a 21-yard touchdown. 

The Cardinals’ attempt to go for 2 failed. 

Late in the third quarter, Cochranton brought Mercer’s lead down to 14-12 after a mammoth drive, that went 80 yards on 10 plays and ended with a 10-yard touchdown run by Jon Gallo. 

Mercer tried to answer right back. But Cochranton’s defense stopped the Mustangs at the Cardinals’ 7-yard line to end the next possession. 

That’s where the score would remain. 

Mercer edged Cochranton in total yards, 230-188. 

Logan Turton led Mercer on the ground with 70 yards on 13 carries. Bright followed with 67 yards on eight carries. 

For Cochranton, Barzak completed 10 of 19 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Gallo was his top receiver with five catches for 42 yards. He also led the team in rushing with 11 carries for 72 yards. 

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