MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Carter Peevy threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ty James on the first drive of the season and Mercer pulled out a 17-7 win over North Alabama on Saturday in the FCS Kickoff Classic at the historic Cramton Bowl.
Despite the quick start, the game wasn't decided until after a 1-hour, 15-minute weather delay, which came early in the third quarter with the Bears up 10-7.
After the delay, the Lions missed a tying field goal. Shortly after that Mercer responded with a nine-play, 82-yard drive, only to lose a fumble on the 1. North Alabama, in the midst of three straight 3-and-out possessions, went nowhere and the Bears were able to score the late touchdown with a 42-yard drive.
Freshman Micah Bell, who had 73 yards rushing, iced it with a 3-yard run.
Peevy was 12 of 17 for 116 yards and the Bears picked up 170 yards on the ground.
Mercer, ranked 20th in the FCS poll, finished 7-4 last year, third in the Southern Conference.
TJ Smith scored North Alabama's touchdown late in the first quarter on a 3-yard run. The Lions, 1-10 last year, finished with 156 yards rushing and 92 passing. Edwin White Schultz tied the Kickoff Classic record with 14 tackles and forced the goal line fumble.
Under new coach Brent Dearmon they will play in the new United Athletic Conference, a combination of the Atlantic Sun and Western Athletic conferences.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll
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