Since breaking its 52-game losing streak in Week Two of last season, Ephrata had gone 6-6 in the time since. While respectable, the Mountaineeress were still looking for that kind of signature win that officially signals a turning of the corner.
They may have finally gotten it Friday night at home against Annville-Cleona.
Led by a near-perfect performance from quarterback Caden Keefer, who completed 21 of 23 passes for four touchdowns and 383 yards, the Mounts pulled away in the second half for a convincing 58-26 victory over the Little Dutchmen (1-1 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three, 1-2 overall).
Miracle Wratto led the Mounts' ground attack with 117 yards and three TDs as Ephrata improved to 2-0, 2-1, setting up a juicy matchup next Friday at Lancaster Catholic (2-0, 3-0).
“We executed the game plan on both sides of the ball,” Ephrata coach Kris Miller said. “We knew what we had and we knew if we executed there was a lot of plays to be made in the passing game. Caden was on point, our receivers hit spots and found open areas and caught the ball and made some huge plays.”
Turning point: Leading 30-14 at the half, Ephrata, which rushed for just 43 yards in the first half, came out and pounded the ball down the field behind a large dose of Richard Greer, who ran six times on the drive as the Mounts chewed up a huge portion of the third quarter. The drive ended with Keefer hitting Sammy Knowles for a 29-yard scoring pass to put Ephrata up 37-14, and the Mounts rolled the rest of the way.
Star of the game: Keefer was throwing darts all over the field on his way to the best night of his career. His receivers were the beneficiaries as Tucker Parmer hauled in six passes to lead the way. Parmer was also on the giving end, as late in the second quarter he hauled in a five-yard pass from Keefer, flipped to lineman Tyler Nelson, who took it the remaining 20 yards for the score. Also, the Ephrata defense deserves mention. After allowing the Dutchmen to cash in on their opening drive, Ephrata forced three straight three-and-outs to allow the offense to build its lead.
Key statistic: Keefer had just two incomplete passes in the game. He also had two other touchdown passes called back because of penalties.
Quotable: “After last year losing to these guys on the last play of the game, to have a chance to win that game and not get it done … all week we were determined not to let it get to that point,” Miller said. “We knew that if we could get up by two scores, we felt we could hold on and hold that momentum, which we did.”
Up next: Ephrata hits the road next Friday for a crucial Section Three first-place showdown at Lancaster Catholic. The Dutchmen will return home to face Northern Lebanon on Friday.