EPHRATA - It was not the start that Lebanon wanted - a fumbled snap on first down, a procedure penalty, and a pass just beyond the reach of a wide-open receiver on third down.
Then Ephrata took the ball to the Cedar 33 before Lebanon’s defense tightened up and the Mounts turned the ball over on downs.
But, as the saying goes, all’s well that ends well.
Lebanon (1-1) got rolling with a 52-yard touchdown strike from Zakee Sailsman to Jeremiah Beckley to take the lead and never looked back en route to a 37-8 victory over Ephrata (0-2) in former Northern Lebanon assistant Kris Miller’s home coaching debut for the Mounts.
“I really wasn’t overly concerned with what the D would do, I just wanted the offense to settle down, and Zakee took over,” said Lebanon coach Gerry Yonchiuk about the slow start.
Sailsman did indeed take over the game in a big way with 142 yards on 13 carries and 152 yards in the air, with four touchdowns, one rushing and three passing. Beckley was on the receiving end of two of those passes, scoring on strikes of 52 and 46 yards before the half to help Lebanon build a comfortable 25-0 lead.
The Cedars opened the second half with another touchdown, a 34-yard run by Sailsman. Later in the quarter, Sailsman handed the ball off to Joshua Kauffman, who ran 21 yards to enforce the mercy rule.
“He’s such a good athlete,” Yonchiuk said of his sophomore quarterback. “His reads were excellent on the triple option; he brings an extra dimension to our offense.”
Of the six touchdowns for Lebanon, five were longer than 20 yards, with three rushing and three passing, further enforcing Yonchiuk’s assessment.
Ephrata did get on the board early in the fourth quarter whenTyler Mentzer scored from the 4-yard after recovering a fumble.
But Yonchiuk was pleased with the way his team performed.
“Overall, our play in four quarters in this heat was good, and getting our young kids playing time; there’s no substitute for that,” he said.
The Cedars travel to Elizabethtown next week and will look to continue their winning streak. Ephrata travels to Warwick.
Lebanon 37, Ephrata 8
Lebanon _ 7 _ 18 _ 12 _ 0 _ — _ 37
Ephrata _ 0 _ 0 _ 0 _ 8 _ — _ 8
L — Jeremiah Beckley 52-yard pass from Zakee Sailsman (Cody Kissinger kick), 2:14
L — Phillip Hillesheim 50-yard pass from Sailsman (kick blocked), 10:09
L — Luis Aquino-Rios 14-yard run (kick blocked), 7:42
L — Beckley 46-yard pass from Sailsman (kick failed), 3:28
L — Sailsman 34-yard run (kick blocked), 7:17
L — Kauffman 21-yard run (kick failed), 2:22
E — Tyler Mentzer 4-yard run (Brendan Holbritter run), 11:52
_ Lebanon _ Ephrata
First downs _ 15 _ 5
Rushes-yards _ 43-392 _ 39-227
Passing _ 4-6-0 _ 3-14-0
Passing yards _ 152 _ 15
Total yards _ 544 _ 242
Punts _ 1-39 _ 4-37.5
Fumbles-lost _ 3-1 _ 3-1
Penalties-yards _ 10-72 _ 5-45
Rushing — L - Sailsman (13-142), Aquino-Rios (3-41), Kauffman (12-135), Hillesheim (2-0), Imm (7-34), Rivera (5-44), Andrews (1--4); E - Smith (16-107), Holbritter (8-34), Mentzer (5-54), Wright (3-3), Fisher (7-29).
Passing — L - Sailsman 4-6-0-152, Julian Imm ; E - Holbritter 3-14-0-15.
Receiving — L - Hillesheim (2-54), Beckley (2-98); E - Rummel (3-15).