Mounts hang, but fall short vs. Spot
JOHN CRAWFORD Review Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Ephrata got an "A" for effort but was not able to get the "W" against Garden Spot Friday night as they dropped a 27-7 decision.
"I thought we had a great effort," said Coach Scott Shelley. "They play hard. They are shorthanded. They’re giving it everything they have and we’re very proud of them. We can’t ask much more of them."
"Two of our better players are gone right now in Blake Weaver and Jeremy Kachel)," Shelley continued. "We’ve probably lost (Kachel) for the year and that really hurts."
Garden Spot came into the game as the 2012 Section Three champs and opened its season with a 48-3 win over Twin Valley. Early in the first period, GS appeared to be ready to blow out the Mounts as they opened up a quick 13-0 lead.
The Spartans received the opening kick-off and by the 2:06 mark, Troy Shaub converted quarterback Mitch Martin’s pass into a touchdown. The PAT failed so it remained 6-0.
The Mounts followed with a possession that included one converted fourth down and one failed one. Taking over on downs at their own 27-yard line, the Spartans made quick work as Martin connected with Daryl Hartman for a 73-yard touchdown pass and with 5:50 left in the first quarter to up the lead to 13-0.
Momentum did not shift as much as it stalled for both teams. The Mounts followed the Spartan touchdown drive with a three and out. The Spartans followed with a fumble that Bobby Nye recovered around the Garden Spot 32 and returned it to the 22.
Two Randy Barrett runs up the middle for four yards and a Dakota Keefer 13-yard run on an option set up Ephrata with first-and-goal on the five yard line. Unfortunately, the Mounts couldn’t convert when quarterback Gyree Durante fumbled and Jake Riehl recovered the ball.
The Mounts regained the ball on downs at their 31, following a Martin incompletion with 8:52 left in the second quarter. Four straight Barrett runs netted 15 yards before Durante hit Nye for an 11-yard gain on a broken play. A pair of Nye and Durante runs got the ball to the Garden Spot 30-yard line before a false start penalty and an incomplete pass stalled the drive after 7:31 of game time.
"We were moving the football," said Shelley. "We have a mistake here and there and it hurts us. It’s not from lack of effort."
The Mounts’ best chances through the first half may have been on two long kickoff returns by Keefer. Both plays followed similar patterns as he took the ball around the nine yard line and ran up the right side of the field. Keefer took the first return to the Ephrata 40 and the second one to mid-field.
"The guys were doing a pretty good job of blocking," recalled Keefer. "I just caught the ball, saw a seam and hit it. That’s what you’ve got to do…hit that at full speed and keep running."
Both returns hinted at touchdowns, especially the second.
"I did think I had it on the second one," he said. "I was off to the races. The kicker made a nice play to force me back into the center and then one tackler tripped me up a little bit. We’ll work on that. The next game we’ll get that last blocker and that will be a touchdown."
Neither team scored in the second or third quarters but Garden Spot broke through early in the fourth when Martin hit Miguel Bowman in stride with a pass down the middle of the field from the Ephrata 46.
With 8:06 left in the game, the Mounts started a drive on their own 46 and began to move. Durante hit Keefer with a pass that netted 23 yards. Runs by Durante, Keefer and Nye took the ball to the 12-yard line. On second and nine, Keefer took a pitch on an option from Durante and eluded several tacklers for Ephrata’s lone score with five minutes left.
"Gyree made a nice read and the pitch was (right) there," said Keefer. "I got the corner and was off to the races. I had a couple guys to beat. I saw a lane and cut it back to the middle but like I said, (a) good read and a good fake fooled the defense a little bit and made it easier to get in the end zone."
The final score was set when Garden Spot’s Rylan Eberly returned a fumble 53 yards with 3:02 left in the game.
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