Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Spartans Roll to Win


Although its provenance likely goes back further, Mark Twain, and before him British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, are credited with the phrase, “There’s lies ... and then there’s statistics.”

A glance at the statistics tells the casual reader that two of the lowest- ranked defenses in the Lancaster-Lebanon League faced off Friday night in New Holland when Garden Spot hosted Ephrata in a Section Two contest.

Such a glance would also single out the Spartans as the top offensive team in the league.

Here, statistics did not lie.

Garden Spot rolled to 426 yards of offense and took advantage of three deadly turnovers to handle Ephrata, 49-7 [boxscore] on homecoming night.

The game was just over five minutes old, and the Spartans (1-2 L-L, 2-4 overall) had run four plays.

And led 14-0.

Ephrata fumbled the opening kickoff, Connor Finkey recovering for the Spartans at the Ephrata 9.

Two plays later, Jeff Harley ran in from a yard out for the first of his three touchdowns on the evening.

Ephrata caught a break with Cody Mountz recovering Harley’s bobbled punt return at Garden Spot’s 48.

The Mounts (0-3, 0-6) were stopped on downs at the 43.

Two plays — and a Spartans procedure penalty — later, quarterback Cameron Roth broke into the open, got a great downfield block from Kellito Westmoreland, and finished off a 60-yard touchdown run.

“We were just kind of shell-shocked,” Mounts coach Kris Miller said. “It got away from us before we could settle into the game.

“We gave them a short field, and a quick score. We go three-and-out, I think, they get another score and it’s a 14-0 game.”

Then Christian Schilling recovered an Ephrata fumble at the Mounts’ 22 and Harley (8 carries, 70 yards) ran 11 yards to paydirt.

“I feel like we have the best offense in the league,” Roth said. “We can put up points, basically, on any play.”

Tyler Walton — a defensive force all evening for the visitors — blocked the PAT, but the Spartans led 20-0, 6:51 into the evening.

The Spartans would widen their advantage in the second quarter on Harley’s 3-yard run and, in the final three minutes of the half, Roth completed TD passes of 27 yards to Westmoreland and 37 yards to Finkey to lead 49-0 at the half.

Roth sat out the second half after completing 5 of 5 passes for 121 yards and two TDs and rushing nine times for 133 yards and a score.

“It’s all blocking,” Roth said. “The line’s awesome, the receivers downfield. I wouldn’t be able to run like I do without them.”

Roth’s relief, Jesse Martin, was 3 of 3 for 46 yards with a 21-yard, third-quarter scoring toss to Jacob Arndt.

The Mounts mounted a decent ground attack, rushing 38 times for 152 yards, but only managed 22 yards on 5-for-15 passing, with two interceptions.

Sophomore quarterback Caden Keefer (16 rushes, 103 yards) engineered the Mounts’ lategame scoring drive.

Walton recovered a Spartans fumble at the 45 — Spot fumbled four times, losing three — with 9:38 to play and, with the clock running, Keefer drove the Mounts 55 yards in 10 plays, taking the ball the final 3 yards himself.