Pioneers flex muscles in 31-6 win over Mounts
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Fresh off their first win of the season a week ago against Lebanon, Ephrata headed into Friday’s matchup at home against Lampeter-Strasburg looking to extend the streak to two.
As the Mounts found out, that was easier said than done against the defending Section Two champs.
While the Pioneers lost a ton of skill position talent to graduation, they are still quite formidable up front. And led by that line, running back Ryan Lawler was able to gash the Mounts for 262 yards and three touchdowns on the ground (22 carries) to key an impressive 31-6 victory over the Mounts.
"Their line was outstanding," Ephrata Coach Scott Shelley said following the loss. "That was probably the best line that we actually have come across. They may have lost their backfield but I’ll tell you their line was unbelievable. and that’s the key to all teams. They were fantastic."
It didn’t take long for the Pioneers to flex their muscles. L-S took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards in just five plays to take a 7-0 lead. Lawler, who broke off a pair of 17-yard runs on the drive, finished it off with a one-yard plunge.
Ephrata (1-1 section, 1-4 overall), responded though, thanks to a halfback option pass from Blake Weaver to Bob Shimko that covered 62 yards to set the Mounts up at the L-S 15. But the threat stalled there when two running plays netted zero yards, followed by two incompletions to turn the ball over.
L-S (2-0, 3-2) then made it 10-0 midway through the second quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Matt Wright. And after the Pioneers stuffed the Mounts deep in their own territory, L-S cashed in on a 10-play, 42-yard drive in which they converted on a pair of fourth down plays to keep it alive.
A 37-yard pass play from quarterback Collin Shank to Ross Souders took it to the Ephrata three. Two plays later, Shank scored on a one-yard run to make it 17-0 at the half.
"I’ll take the blame for not getting our kids ready," Shelley said. "I should have done a better job. I just did not do a good enough job to prepare them for an L-S team as good as they are. I probably didn’t do a good enough job with my defensive gameplan. But we are going to get better, we are going to keep pushing and we are going to keep working hard."
Ephrata took the second-half kickoff and drove all the way to the L-S 19. But the Pioneers pounced on a Bobby Nye fumble to end the threat. However, L-S fumbled the ball back to the Mounts at the Pioneer 40, and after three-straight incompletions, Ephrata pulled off a fake punt with Nye hitting Josh Gehman for a 32-yard pass play down to the Pioneer eight.
Two plays later, Nye called his own number and went four yards around left end to get the Mounts on the scoreboard, although it stayed 17-6 when Blake Weaver’s extra point attempt was blocked.
"It was exciting that we were able to hit one of our punt fakes," Shelley said. "That’s something we’ve always done back at Cocalico and to be able to do that gave the kids excitement. It was good to know that we are improving on every facet of the game."
L-S, though, responded with a pair of scores to put this one out of reach. First, Lawler went around right end for a 47-yard run late in the third quarter.
Then, a muffed snap on a punt attempt deep in Ephrata territory gave the Pioneer the ball at the Mounts six early in the fourth. Lawler punched it in one play later to close out the scoring.
For the game, Ephrata’s running game was grounded as the Mounts produced just 70 yards on 39 carries. The Mounts did throw for 147 yards, thanks to the halfback pass and fake punts.
Up next, the Mounts travel to Conestoga Valley to face a Buckskin team similar in style to L-S. CV (0-2, 0-5) is led by running back Anthony Brown, who rushed for 172 yards on 32 carries a week ago in a narrow loss to E-town.
"CV is a big challenge," Shelley said when asked about the upcoming contest. "They have an outstanding middle linebacker who really flies to the ball. And then you got Anthony Brown, who is like a missile being shot out of a cannon. When he gets going…wow. It’s just amazing. They have a good line… they are very physical and it’s going to be a big challenge for us." More MOUNTS, page B-4