Big plays, mistakes hurt Mounts in season opener

By on September 9, 2015
Ephrata running back R.J. Barrett drags a CV defender for some extra yardage during Friday’s season opener at War Memorial. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Ephrata running back R.J. Barrett drags a CV defender for some extra yardage during Friday’s season opener at War Memorial. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Conestoga Valley’s experienced passing attack was too much for Ephrata in Friday night’s Lancaster-Lebanon League high school football opener for both teams.
However, the 50-7 final score was not totally indicative of the way the Mounts performed on the turf at the War Memorial Field.
“The offensive line was outstanding,” described Ephrata Head Coach Scott Shelley. “There were no sacks, and the running backs ran extremely hard.”
Senior two-way lineman Peter Ehrhart had positive words for his fellow linemen.
“We made a lot of good progress, protected the quarterback well and blocked well for the runners,” he said.”
CV jumped on top on the game’s first drive as junior quarterback Grant Stoltzfus passed for 63 yards, going five-for-five, including the final 11 yards to fellow junior Albert Hanna in the corner of the end zone. The two would hook up for three additional touchdowns before their night was over. A successful two point conversion, and the early score was 8-0.
“He’s a three-year starter,” added Shelley of Stoltzfus. “And their receiver is good. It’s hard to match up, especially when you lose (junior Dustin) Fisher and (junior Alex) Rummel from the defensive secondary for the season. It’s a big learning curve for these young kids.”
The Mounts started the first offensive effort from their own 20, and were aggressive from the jump. Senior quarterback Jerrad Malmer went for a 30-yard strike to senior Charles Warden (a spring track sprinter) on the opening play but fell incomplete. Ephrata did pick up two first downs on the drive on runs by Malmer, junior Randy Barrett and senior Evan Frees.
When facing fourth-and-long, Malmer punted rugby style from the shotgun position, nearly pinning the Buckskins deep inside their own five. Unfortunately the ball trickled into the end zone for a touchback and CV’s second drive from their own 20 with 4:58 left in the first. The Mounts defense rose to the occasion, forcing a three-and-out, stuffing two running plays and a sideline pass broken up by senior Cain Lutz.
The Ephrata momentum was broken when the Bucks punt was muffed at the Mount’s 47 and recovered by CV. Two consecutive completions by Stoltfus, the second a 28 yarder to Hanna, and the Buckskins were up 15-0.
The Mounts picked up one first down on their second drive and 15 for the game, but seven penalties and the dropped punt short-circuited any momentum that they generated.
“We just made too many mistakes,” lamented Shelley. “When they take place at the most inopportune time, it takes the wind out of your sails. These are things I need to point out when we look at the film.”
On the subject of challenges going forward, two-way player, and kick returner Hunter Lehman had a clear answer.
“We need to improve our pass coverage and end the self errors,” he said.
But, he did see several positives on the night. “The offensive line is improved, we limited their running game (19 for 142 yards) and the special teams did well, giving up no long run-backs.”
Conestoga Valley did find the end zone twice more in the first half on Stoltzfus passes, the first, a 30 yarder to senior Tyler Humphreville, and the latter, a seven yarder to Hanna with seconds left in the period. At the break, the Bucks led the Mounts 28-0.
Lehman’s 32-yard kick return gave Ephrata good field position to start the second half, but two procedure penalties erased an 11-yard completion from Malmer to sophomore Adam Smith and the Mounts were forced to punt.
CV’s three play drive was all on the back of Connor Brinton as the Bucks junior caught a 12-yard pass and ran for four more before his 51-yard touchdown run invoked the mercy rule (running clock). This was one of the few times that the Mounts spacing and tackling against the running game broke down.
Backup QB, sophomore Brendan Holbritter (50 yards passing), led Ephrata to its only score of the night with 7:53 left in the game after junior D-Lineman Joseph Hoover recovered a Buckskin fumble at the Mounts 43. Holbritter hit Barrett for 32 yards and junior Tyler Mentzer for six more before the running game took over with junior Austin Reider punching it into the end zone from one yard out. Junior kicker Caroline Stauffer converted the point after for Ephrata’s final point.
Sophomore Bencosme Yoseph ran for the Bucks second big-play ground gainer (40 yards) before following it up with a sweep around the left end for CV’s final touchdown of the night. The Mounts picked up a final first down in the last drive, but ran out of time in the non-league opener.
The two-pronged stars of the game for CV were Stoltfus and Hanna. The Bucks QB was 22 for 25 passing, racking up 279 yards and five touchdowns, much of the production coming in the first half. Hanna caught seven balls for 95 yards and four scores.
“Our positive was definitely running the ball,” observed Mount QB Malmer.
Malmer led the rushing attack (206 yards on 42 carries) with 71 yards, while Barrett picked up 56 and Frees 53. Defensively, Ehrhart (2 sacks, 6 tackles, 3 for loss) and sophomore Charles Zimmerman (2 sacks, 4 tackles, 1 tipped pass) led the way.
“We have the potential to turn this program around,” added Ehrhart.
The Buckskins racked up 10 plays of more than 20 yards (compared to two for the Mounts) to easily win the big-play category, while the turnover battle was even at one apiece.
Up next for the Mounts is Friday’s Ephrata Review Cup matchup at Denver against the Cocalico Eagles, who fell in their opener 7-0 to Daniel Boone.
When asked if there was any advantage to the three tough non-league contests (Game Three is Warwick) before beginning the Section Three L-L schedule, Shelley responded, “It depends on how the players respond. (CV Coach Mark) Pieters told me our kids played much better than the score.”

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