Mounts roll past Cedars for first win
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Three weeks ago, Ephrata opened the Scott Shelley era with a stinker at Exeter.
Following that 42-0 loss, Shelley preached patience, and vowed that if nothing else, his team would work hard and make improvements throughout the season.
Shelley has kept his word.
Ephrata got better in a Week Two loss to Garden Spot, and just last week was a play or two away from knocking off Warwick.
And Friday night at home vs. Lebanon in the Section Two opener, the Mounts not only made more strides from the week before, they tasted victory for the first time.
Led by junior running back Blake Weaver, who rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, the Mounts’ veer attack rolled up 359 yards on the ground. Defensively, Ephrata was up to the task as well, holding the Cedars’ high-powered "Air-Raid" attack to just 189 yards.
In the end, the Mounts cruised to a very impressive 41-13 victory over Lebanon, giving the Mounts their first home win since knocking off Conestoga Valley, 7-3 in Week Three of the 2010 season.
"It feels so good to finally get a win," Weaver said following the victory. "It’s been three years since we’ve had a home win so it’s great to finally put an end to that."
Shelley credited the players for not giving up after starting the year 0-3.
"I’m just so happy for these kids," Shelley said. "I’m just happy to see the smiles on their faces…That’s what it’s all about. The thing is, these kids are buying in and are working their tails off. They are still learning. They are not there yet, but they are getting there."
Ephrata (1-0 section, 1-3 overall), which scored just seven points in the first three weeks, wasted little time in getting the offense going Friday night. Jeremy Kachel set the tone when he returned the opening kickoff 59 yards to the Cedar 22. Then, on the first play from scrimmage, Weaver took a pitch around left end and went 22 yards untouched for the score.
"I just went around the outside and got great blocking by Koty (Keefer)," he said. "I just had a clear hole right to the endzone."
According to quarterback Bobby Nye, the Mounts just put that play in for the Lebanon game.
"We saw their defense play in the box a lot because we like to run the veer," Nye explained. "We had to take advantage of that. We had to find a play that could get to the outside, and the coaches just put that play in and it worked very well."
A Nye sacked of Lebanon quarterback Mark Pyles led to a three-and-out on the Cedars’ first series. The Mounts then took over at their own 48 and went 52 yards on 13 running plays to increase their lead to 13-0. Keefer (14-86 rushing) then finished off the first quarter with a two-yard plunge to make it 13-0.
Lebanon cut the deficit to 13-7 with a long touchdown drive early in the second quarter that culminated when Pyles hit Jeronimo Rodriguez on a fourth down pass play that covered 13 yards for the score.
But the Mounts bounced right back on their next series as Justin Mease came in at quarterback and broke off a nice 41-yard touchdown run to the left corner to make it 20-7 heading to the half.
"We got the big lead but we felt we needed to keep chugging along. We didn’t want to slow down," Nye said.
Midway through the third quarter, Weaver went up the gut for a 35-yard touchdown to up the lead to 27-6. Then, with 36 second remaining in the period, Keefer ran in his second two-yard touchdown run of the night to make it 33-6.
Weaver then capped the Ephrata scoring early in the fourth quarter, breaking a 49-yard TD run to up the lead to 41-6 and invoke the Mercy Rule.
Lebanon (0-1, 0-4) did strike back and add a late touchdown as Pyles hit Nick Negron on a 58-yard bomb with 7:32 to go.
"This was definitely a neat thing to see," Shelley said of the win. "The kids are starting to believe. The foundation has been set and they continue to add to it each week."
Weaver added, "We are improving every single game. I don’t even know where we are going to stop. We’ll just keep going and going one week at a time."
This week, the Mounts host defending Section Two champion Lampeter-Strasburg, which comes into the game following an impressive 45-7 victory over Solanco last week.
The Pioneers are off to a so-so 2-2 start, but Shelley fully expects to see the best out of L-S Friday night.
"I know they lost a lot of kids but Coach (John) Mannion does a great job," Shelley said. "He’ll have them ready. We are just going to do what we have to do. We just have to take care of ourselves. We just have to put in a good week of practice and keep getting better." More MOUNTS, page B-4