Bucks Take Advantage

By on September 6, 2017

Early mistakes prove costly as Mounts fall big to CV

 Ephrata’s Elie Basenga (85) puts the hit on CV’s Jose Barbon in front of teammate Mason Sensenig during Friday’s season opener at War Memorial.  Photos by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s Elie Basenga (85) puts the hit on CV’s Jose Barbon in front of teammate Mason Sensenig during Friday’s season opener at War Memorial. Photos by Missi Mortimer

Practices and even scrimmages are one thing, but when you get under the lights on a Friday night it’s just a different animal. Tensions are tenfold, and the speed of the game cannot be matched on a practice field.

That was the lesson learned by Ephrata Friday night in the season opening game at War Memorial against Conestoga Valley.

With many new young faces in the lineup, Ephrata couldn’t replicate its performance for most the pre-season. CV, behind a monster game from senior wideout Jose Barbon, took advantage of several early mistakes by the Mounts and cashed in on an eventual 49-7 victory.

The Buckskins struck for three, first quarter scores on their way to a 35-0 half-time lead. Barbon did most of the damage, hauling in six catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a 65 yard punt return for a score to lead the Bucks to the impressive win.

Ephrata did settle down in the second half, and produced its first score of the season when sophomore QB Caden Keefer called his own number from 15 yards out.

Also on a positive note, the Mounts did hold the CV rush game to under 100 yards, the first they’ve done that to an opponent in a long time.

But still, early mistakes and Barbon’s exploits cost the Mounts and led to their 42nd straight loss.

“This is one opportunity of 10,” Ephrata Coach Kris Miller said following the loss. “I just think we were so tense in the first quarter. We just made some mistakes that…I think they had the ball inside the 50 every single time in the first quarter. We gave up three touchdowns but we played pretty good defense. Jose Barbon is going to make plays and we got to tackle a little bit better on an athlete like that. But as far as defending the run game, I thought we did a nice job. We made mental mistakes early, and gave them short field positions…you just can’t do that against a good team.”

CV did take the opening kickoff and march 71 yards on six plays to take a 7-0 lead. Tyre Stead capped off the drive when he hauled in the first of four Tanner Schwilk (11-for-16, 228 yards) touchdown passes from 13 yards out.

Later in the quarter, after the Mounts went three-and-out for their second-straight possession, a high snap eluded punter Daulton Fry and rolled all the way to the one where Fry would eventually fall on the football.

The Buckskins took over there and three plays later Yozeph Bencosme (9-49) found the endzone on a two-yard jaunt to up the Buckskin lead to 14-0.

But Ephrata made another special teams blunder on the ensuing kickoff as the Mounts failed to cover Joe Cardina’s kick. Stead eventually pounced on the ball, setting his team up at the Mountaineer 17. Three plays later, Schwilk hit Barbon on a 14-yard scoring pass that made it 21-0.

“That’s on me,” Miller said of the special team’s miscues. “That’s my fault. It’s a learning experience for some kids that are new to football and we’ll learn from that and move forward.”

Barbon had a hand in both second quarter scores for CV, hauling in a 62-yard pass from Schwilk down the left sidelines with 11:23 to go in the period to up it to 28-0. Then after Ephrata’s fourth-straight series without a first down, the CV speedster returned a Fry punt 65 yards to make it 35-0.

Ephrata, which rushed for 86 yards on the ground and threw for an additional 61 yards, did get things going offensively in the second half. After Barbon made it 42-0 on a 32-yard TD catch early in the third, the Mounts drove from their own 35 to the CV 18 before a fourth-down interception halted that drive.

But Ephrata did reach paydirt midway through the fourth quarter, driving 79 yards in six plays for their first touchdown of the season. Keefer, who subbed in and out at quarterback throughout the game with senior Nate Young, broke off a 31 yard scramble to get the ball in CV territory. Five plays later, he kept around left end for a 15-yard score.

Keefer led the Mounts in rushing with 90 yards on 10 attempts. He also completed 6-of-9 passes for 53 yards.

“Finally in the third and fourth quarter we relaxed and executed,” Miller said. “We were just so tense early on and so worried to make a mistake that we were just like a step too slow. There was some stuff that was open but we just didn’t make the plays that we had to, and that just comes with confidence and getting used to game experience. When you look at Young and Keefer, this was their first game at playing varsity football. We had two scrimmages, but until it’s Friday night under the lights, it’s a different experience and a different speed of the game.”

Up next, Ephrata will look to halt the streak Friday night (7 p.m.) at Alumni Stadium in Lebanon where the Mounts will take on the host Cedars, who fell 42-14 to Cedar Crest in Week One.

“We’ll watch this (CV) film and pick out the good plays and the bad plays and show them what they are capable of,” Miller said. “I don’t think we are as bad as what the score may have shown. Like I said we had short fields early on but we are full speed ahead with our blinders on, looking at Lebanon. We have to block out the negativity and trust what we are doing and trust we are going to put the kids in the right spots and grow a little bit closer. Every day is a learning experience for us right now.”


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