Before last Thursday’s victory over Edinboro, one may have thought the Mercyhurst football team had nothing to celebrate.
The victories did not appear in the box score, they are engraved in the record books. However, historic performances in the month of October leave the three losses in the past. Zach Emerick, Joe Dever and Brandon Brown-Dukes all injected life back into the team with their performances.
Redshirt senior running back Brown-Dukes knew exactly how many yards he needed to surpass Richard Stokes on the all-time rushing list.
“I knew I was close because after every game, up until I broke the record, it was always written in the game recap on the Hurst Athletics page stating how far away I was from the record,” Brown-Dukes said.
In addition to the constant reminders from the Athletics Department, members of the Mercyhurst football team would not let Brown-Dukes forget how close he was.
“My teammates were the ones that talked to me about it the most,” said Brown-Dukes when asked about the record breaking game.
The number to beat was 3,381. Brown-Dukes ran right past the record on Oct. 3, with an impressive 100-yard performance to a strong Clarion team, putting him at 3,427 by the end of the night.
When asked what goes through his mind while becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher, one would expect that he enters into a Marshawn Lynch “beast-mode” state of mind. However, Brown-Dukes just said “music.”
“During the game, there is always a song that pops up in my head and it’s usually a song that I would hear during the week before the game,” Brown-Dukes said.
Sure enough, Brown-Dukes is humming along to a Beyoncé song as he barrels over defenders.
“The most memorable song would have to be Beyoncé’s ‘Sweet Dreams’ remix, featuring Nicki Minaj,” Brown-Dukes said.
Seeing that Brown-Dukes is a nightmare to opposing defenders, “Sweet Dreams” is a very fitting tune.
The record books were rewritten just two weeks later when redshirt junior quarterback Emerick and senior linebacker Dever shared historic moments on Tullio Field. Emerick completed 39 passes for 412 yards against the defending PSAC champions, Slippery Rock.
Although the Lakers did not win the game, Emerick stepped up big in his first start of the season against a defense that has only been beaten once this season. After a rocky start, Emerick settled into a rhythm of around 10.5 average yards per pass.
In a similar fashion, Dever lead the Laker defense with 18 tackles. Dever and Emerick are on the same wavelength during games. They both talked about reacting rather than thinking when suited up on game-day.
“The games for me are mostly reacting to the other team and reading my different keys. On each play I am reading the formation and thinking about the different plays [the offense] can run from that formation and reacting,” said Dever. “The majority of the thinking for a defensive player takes place during the week in practice. Once the game comes around, you really don’t think as much and just react and play hard.”
Emerick had a very similar response. His mind is focused on reading and reacting to defenses. Meanwhile, Brown-Dukes is likely humming along to Rebbie Jackson’s 1986 hit song “Reaction.”
“I was not aware of the record at all during the game and did not know until after the game when one of my teammates told me in the locker room,” Emerick said.
The redshirt junior humbly credited the record-breaking performance to his teammates.
“I would have to give the credit to my teammates, our receivers and running backs did a good job catching the ball and our offensive line gave us the time to throw,” Emerick said.
These three performances turned out to be the silver linings in the October slump. The team showed up big against Edinboro on Thursday, Oct. 22, as the win broke a four game losing streak.