ASTON — After not nearly finding an opponent for this weekend, and then sitting on a bus for nearly two hours to Sun Valley on Saturday night, Ephrata’s opportunistic defense made it count with a business trip to Delaware County.
The Mountaineers feasted on seven turnovers — five fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions — and Miracle Wratto threw a touchdown pass and he had a game-clinching TD run for Ephrata, which topped Sun Valley 23-6 in a late-addition nonleague game.
Ephrata (3-2) had to find a game when Donegal had to postpone last week because of positive COVID-19 cases in the school district. Sun Valley, which competes in the Ches-Mont League, ran into a similar situation with conference rival Oxford, which had to postpone their game.
So late Friday afternoon, the Mountaineers and the Vanguards agreed to play Saturday night. And after falling behind early in the first quarter, Ephrata’s defense stood tall and pitched a shutout from there, forcing seven turnovers while continuing to stymie Sun Valley time and time again.
After Sun Valley’s Ty McLaughlin opened the scoring with a 9-yard TD burst with 9:10 to go in the first quarter — after the Vanguards completed a nifty halfback option pass for 50 yards to set up that score — Wratto fired a 64-yard TD strike to Brock Boyer to tie the game and give the Mounts a spark.
It was still 6-6 at the half, but Ephrata took the lead for good when Ryan Honberger booted a 25-yard field goal with 2:43 to go in the third quarter. Honberger’s make came off the Mounts’ fourth fumble recovery.
SLAMMING THE DOOR
Clinging to that 9-6 lead in the fourth quarter, Ephrata cashed in on a pair of interceptions to ice the game. With five minutes to play, Wratto darted 8 yards for a 16-6 edge, finishing off a drive set up by Zach Wanous’ interception. Wanous also recovered one of Sun Valley’s five lost fumbles.
Later, Richard Greer rumbled 10 yards for the game-icing TD with 1:15 to play, polishing off a drive keyed by Andre Weidman’s interception to thwart yet another Vanguards’ drive.
Thanks to a grind-it-out Wing-T attack, Sun Valley churned out 187 rushing yards, but the five lost fumbles and two picks were ultimately killers. The Vanguards also had eight penalties for 70 yards, including a pair of personal fouls in the second half.
Ephrata, meanwhile, picked up 167 rushing yards, and Wratto went up top for another 92 yards. More importantly, the Mounts weren’t flagged for a single penalty. And despite giving the ball back twice on interceptions, the seven takeaways definitely helped seal the deal.
“What a weird week,” Ephrata coach Kris Miller said. “We didn’t even find out until 3 p.m. (Friday) that we were playing them, so we had like no preparation for them, with just one film. So we put some stuff together that we thought would work. We gave up some yardage here and there, but our kids kept finding ways to take the ball away. If you can force turnovers, and take the ball away seven times and keep giving your offense a chance, good things are going to happen.”
Ephrata returns to L-L League Section 3 play on Friday, when the Mounts will welcome first-place Lampeter-Strasburg. The undefeated Pioneers can clinch the section championship outright with a victory.