Payton’s 3 TD passes lead Mercer over Gardner-Webb 45-14

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (AP) — Fred Payton threw three touchdown passes and Mercer rolled to a 45-14 victory over Gardner-Webb on Saturday night.

Payton was 15-of-23 passing for 187 yards. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Devron Harper and one to Drake Starks. Harper made eight catches for 109 yards and added 64 yards on the ground.

Harper broke loose on a 66-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Payton added a 27-yard TD pass to Harper and a 15-yarder to Starks as Mercer (3-1) built a 21-0 first-quarter lead. Cameron Sims’ 67-yard pick-6 stretched the Bears’ lead to 28-7 heading into halftime.

Bailey Fisher threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Luther and Jalin Graham ran into the end zone from the 1 for Gardner-Webb (1-3). Luther had six receptions for 98 yards.

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