MACON, Ga. – After leading the Mercer football team back to the field for the first time in 72 years with a dramatic victory over Reinhardt Saturday evening, the duo of sophomore JT Palmer and senior Josh Shutter were recognized with weekly honors from the Pioneer Football League.
Palmer was named the league's Offensive Player of the Week, while Josh Shutter earned Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
"This is a great honor being the first Pioneer League game for us to bring home a pair of weekly awards, said head coach Bobby Lamb. "These two guys had a huge impact on the game and certainly deserve these awards."
Palmer caught four passes on the day, including a pair of touchdowns to lead the Mercer receiving core. His 22-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter helped the Bears build a 21-13 lead. Minutes after Mercer surrendered the lead to end the third, Palmer responded with an acrobatic 26-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to grab a 34-29 advantage. He finished the day with four receptions for 70 yards.
"JT had an incredible game," said Lamb. "He caught the ball four times and had two touchdowns but he affected the entire game because Reinhardt had to structure their defense to stop him."
Shutter saved his heroics for the final minutes of the contest, delivering the game-winning 31-yard field goal through the uprights with just three seconds left to send Mercer into celebration. He had knotted the score three minutes early with a 28-yard kick, making him the only PFL kicker in week one to record multiple field goals. He was also perfect in extra points, going 4-for-4 to finish the game with 10 total points.
"What a great story Josh Shutter is," Lamb said. "We had no idea he was going to be that consistent and I guess his soccer background helped him handle the pressure there in the final seconds."
The Bears returned to the gridiron for the first time in 72 years and did so in front of a raucous standing room only crowd of 12,172. Following a bye week, Mercer will continue its current four-game homestand to open the season, welcoming Warner to town on Sept. 14 for a 6 p.m. kickoff.