Heather Sue Mercer, a Duke freshman bidding to become the first female to play Division I football, feels like she belongs now.
Mercer kicked a 28-yard field goal with 1:22 to play Saturday, giving the Blue team a 24-22 victory in Duke's spring scrimmage. The winning kick earned her a ride off the field on the shoulders of her teammates."You dream about it being like this, but you don't think it will actually happen," said Mercer, who has been a member of the spring squad since January.
But when it came down to Mercer, she sent the football fluttering just over the crossbar.
Mercer came to the team as a walk-on and will be competing with two scholarship kickers and three other walk-ons when the team begins its season in August, sports information director Mike Cragg said Sunday.
Duke head coach Fred Goldsmith, who watched most of the scrimmage from the press box, said Mercer is showing promise.
"That was something unique and special," he said. "She's worked so hard to strengthen her leg. . . . Today, we only had a two or three step rush, but during the spring she's had to kick with a full rush."
The limited rush rule put Mercer in an awkward position early in the game. She converted the extra point after the first Blue touchdown in the first quarter, but when the Blues scored again later in the period, a bad snap left her holding the ball with the slowly rushing White team bearing down on her.
"I didn't know what to do," she said. Mercer's awkward pass was batted away from freshman Tawambi Settles.