Oh so close… Mounts battle back but fall 28-21 to Cedars

By on September 13, 2017
Ephrata’s Brandon Walton fights off the tackle of Lebanon’s Josh Kauffman (9) during Friday’s 28-21 Cedar win. Photo by Dwight Palm


Ephrata’s Brandon Walton fights off the tackle of Lebanon’s Josh Kauffman (9) during Friday’s 28-21 Cedar win. Photo by Dwight Palm

Ephrata made a valiant effort to halt its 42-game losing streak Friday night on the road at Lebanon. But in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

The Mounts, who fell behind 21-0 and 28-7 before battling back with a pair of third-quarter scores to make it a one-touchdown game, came up just short when the host Cedars dug in and held on for a 28-21 victory.

Twice Ephrata had late chances in the fourth quarter to get the equalizer, including one drive that ended on downs at the Lebanon 21. In the end, Lebanon (1-1) did just enough to hand the Mounts their second loss of the season while pushing the streak to 43 games.

“Obviously the kids were disappointed that we were not able to come all the way back and get the win,” Ephrata Coach Kris Miller said by e-mail Tuesday. “After the game we talked how proud of them I was for coming all the way back in that game after being down 21-0. We talked about how we need to use the last three quarters of the game as the measuring stick for how we need to play in the future for four quarters.”

The first quarter was one the Mounts would like to have back as Lebanon broke out to a quick 21-0 lead on the strength of three Zakee Sailsman touchdown passes.

The first one was gift-wrapped as the Mounts fumbled after they were moving the ball and the Cedars recovered. Sailsman then completed a long pass on the next play to set up a three-yard TD pass to Jeremiah Beckley for the quick 7-0 lead.

The Cedars added TD passes of 31 yards to Tavian Sumlin and 22 yards to Jahlil Young to open up the 21-0 lead after one.

The Mounts, who out-rushed the Cedars 213-158 for the game, got on the board late in the half as quarterback Caden Keefer capped a 90-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7 with 1:27 to go in the second.

But the Cedars struck for what turned out to be the game-winning score with 14 ticks remaining in the half when Sailsman connected with Beckley on a 36-yard scoring strike to make it a three-score game again.

Ephrata did fight back in the third quarter and cut the Lebanon lead in half (28-14) midway through the third on a 15-yard touchdown run by Adam Smith, who rushed for 117 yards on 18 carries.

It became a ballgame moments later when Sailsman was picked off by sophomore Bryson Rhee, who returned it 20 yards to the house to suddenly pump all kinds of life in the Mounts.

But despite keeping the Cedars out of the end zone in the second half, Ephrata couldn’t find a way to cash in one more time and came up just short.

In spite of the loss, Miller said he saw a lot of positives from his team Friday.

“During the game our kids were more focused than I have ever seen them,” he said. “It took a tremendous effort to battle back to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter. Our kids took the adjustments we made in stride and were able to make all of the checks that we asked them to. It was great to see our kids play a full game and have an opportunity in the end to get a win.”

Miller feels his team can take some momentum, even from a loss, into this Friday’s Male Trophy game at home vs. Warwick.

“Absolutely…our kids saw that when they execute in all phases of the game they are able to compete at a high level,” he said. “We are still at a point where we need to continue to grow each day to give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”

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