Mounts fall 63-6 to Warwick in season opener

By on August 29, 2018
Ephrata’s Taj London (4) and Dylan Coen (14) lay the hit on Warwick receiver Trey Glass during first quarter action of Friday’s season opener at War Memorial.

Ephrata’s Taj London (4) and Dylan Coen (14) lay the hit on Warwick receiver Trey Glass during first quarter action of Friday’s season opener at War Memorial.

Trailing just 7-0 early in the first quarter last Friday night, Ephrata got a ray of hope.

Thanks to a big fourth-down stop against Warwick, the Mounts took over with excellent field position at the Warriors’ 40-yard line.

An Ephrata score would’ve made it a new game.

It didn’t happen.

On back-to-back plays, Division-One recruits Hayden Rucci and Nick Coomer broke through and sacked Mounts’ signal-caller Caden Keefer, turning the tide back in favor of Warwick.

Following the punt, QB Adam Ricketts connected with Trey Glass on a 55-yard touchdown strike and the Warriors never looked back.

Capitalizing on 504 yards of total offense, Warwick went on to win the George Male Trophy for the 13th year in a row, knocking off the Mounts 63-6 at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field and taking a 45-38-6 advantage in the all-time series.

“It feels nice,” said Warrior junior wide receiver Trey Glass, who finished with four receptions for 154 yards and two TDs. “Hard work pays off.”

The sacks by Rucci and Coomer also paid off for the Warriors at a pivotal point in the game.

“With those two playing defensive end, they make it tough,” Ephrata Coach Kris Miller said. “We’ve got to find a way to get first downs in the first quarter, keep the defense off the field and control the momentum. We had it for a little bit after the fourth-down stop, but then they had those two big plays and took it right back.”

“(Ephrata) played hard the whole game, they didn’t let down at all,” Warrior boss Bob Locker said, “but I think (those plays) took some wind out of them.”

In all, Warwick’s D in the first half held Ephrata to minus-15 rushing yards and three first downs.

By then, the Warriors had built a commanding 35-0 cushion going into the locker room. The offensive heroes were many for the red-and-black as running back Nick Fucci gained 93 yards on 17 carries, with four touchdowns, Ricketts finished 10-of-11 through the air for 268 yards and three scores, tight end Rucci had 119 receiving yards and a TD, and Sean Badessa added 50 yards on the ground and a TD.

“Coach has talked a lot about next man up,” Ricketts said, “because (Carter) Forney left, Riss (Isaac Rissinger) left, we knew that we were going to need a back-up for Fucci and Badessa looked good out there tonight, obviously Glass looked good. We also have some younger guys that we need to get involved, but we looked pretty good.”

Ephrata, too, showed some athleticism, improved physical play and resiliency, as evidenced by Keefer’s 20-yard TD pass to Samuel Knowles in the left corner of the end zone on the final play of the third quarter, capping an eight-play, 82-yard drive to get the Mounts on the scoreboard.

Keefer, who bounced back from a first-half injury, finished 10-of-15 passing for 61 yards, including one INT and a touchdown.

“It gives us a chance to gain some confidence,” Miller said. “It’s one of our basic plays that we rep all the time and it was nice to see us execute it and Sammy did a nice job going up, making a play, coming down with it and fighting for the ball. That helps and anything we can do like that to gain confidence, it goes a long way.”

Warwick was actually going the wrong direction while picking up two penalties on its first two offensive plays. The yellow hankies ended up costing the Warriors 11 times for 95 yards.

“After the first two plays, we were like, ‘OK, we need to step it up right now. Let’s get going,’” Ricketts said. “We look to score right away.”

After Glass took a swing pass 25 yards, followed by Fucci barreling for six yards, Ricketts fired deep for Glass, who out-jumped Ephrata defensive back Miracle Wratto and then went the distance for a 45-yard touchdown with 1:23 elapsed. Kicker Pietro Elliott, who was 9-for-9 on PATs, made it 7-0.

“Trey went and got it,” Locker said. “He’s a good athlete. Not a lot of people can do that.”

“Adam did a great job making his reads and getting us the ball,” Glass said. “That’s what he does. It was a little short, and the receivers coach (Zach Snyder) tells us to go attack it at the high point and I came down with it.”

An unsportsmanlike penalty on its next series put Warwick in 2nd-and-long, and Ephrata’s defense rose to the occasion to stop them on downs.

“The first quarter, I thought we didn’t play half-bad,” Miller said. “I thought we stopped the run decently. We gave up a few big pass plays defensively and it came down to being two or three steps away from making a play. We just have to learn to have that confidence in that situation to be the one to make the big play. Offensively, we didn’t move the ball early, and when you face a team like that and you give them short fields and turn the ball over, they’re going to capitalize on it.”

Indeed, Ephrata went three-and-out on its first two possessions, and Ricketts’ 55-yard TD pass over the middle to Glass with 5:08 left in the first quarter doubled the Warriors’ lead to 14-0.

Elliott and Warwick’s kickoff team then did their job, pinning the Mounts at their 19, and on the next play, linebacker Jakob McCracken recovered Colton Goodman’s fumble at Ephrata’s 2-yard line.

Fucci took it in from there, behind the blocking of offensive linemen Coomer, Nolan Rucci, Max Bright, Hayden Benner, Hunter Deibler and tight end Hayden Rucci, to give Warwick a 21-0 advantage with 4:55 left in the first.

“I’ve got to thank our line,” Fucci said. “Our line is the biggest part of our offense and they give us the time for everything to make big plays.”

The big plays continued for the Warriors late in the first, and Fucci’s four-yard TD run off the left side of the line with 1:27 elapsed in the second extended their lead to 28-0.

Overall, Warwick scored on four of its six first-half possessions, and Rickett’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Justin Gerhart with 5:04 to go in the half pushed the advantage to 35-0.

“We’ve got some skill kids that can do things and tonight they did things,” Locker said.

Fucci added a one-yard touchdown run with 4:01 elapsed in the third, and then after Austin Bufis recovered an Ephrata fumble on the kickoff — one of three turnovers in the game by the Mounts — Fucci’s 10-yard TD carry just over three minutes later made it 49-0.

Ephrata running back Brandon Waltman gave his team a shot in the arm on their next series, breaking off runs of 14 and 8 yards, and then Keefer found daylight on the perimeter for 28 more.

That set up the 20-yard Keefer-to-Knowles TD strike which got Ephrata on the scoreboard.

“I thought they played hard,” Locker said. “They’re a better football team than they were a year ago or two years ago. They did some things well. They’re going to win some games this year.”

In the fourth quarter, sophomore QB Joey McCracken threw his first varsity career TD pass for the Warriors, a 54-yard aerial to Rucci, and then following an INT by Conrad Weidler, Badessa’s 10-yard TD run with 2:47 left completed the scoring.

“It’s awesome because we can finally say we’re 1-0,” Ricketts said, “and that’s the first step to going to the playoffs, and we’re excited about that.”

Both teams return to action this Friday night, with Ephrata traveling to Northern Lebanon for its Section Three opener and Warwick hosting Garden Spot in a non-league clash.

“We’re going to get ourselves back healthy and see what happens next week and go on from there,” Miller said.

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