Elizabethtown was 4-13 on third down conversions, committed nine penalties, allowed three sacks and turned the ball over twice in a 31-7 loss to Cedar Crest.
The Bears came into the game ranked ninth in the District Three power rankings, while the Falcons were ranked sixth. The top eight seeds qualify for the playoffs.
Elizabethtown’s disjointed offensive effort began on the first offensive play of the game when wide receiver Grant Gaumer motioned in front of quarterback Cole Patrick before the two fumbled the read option. The Bears recovered, but it ended up foreshadowing how the game would play out.
Coach Bill McDonald said that installing some more motion into the offense was part of the game plan after watching video of last year’s game against Cedar Crest.
“I don’t know how comfortable our kids were with that. It’s not something we did a lot of during the year. We tried to create a little more counter action, but it didn’t seem to work,” McDonald said.
Cedar Crest began its first offensive possession at midfield and cashed in with a 32-yard field goal. On second down, the Falcons dropped a pass in the end zone and safety Dane Hilsher was able to break up a pass in the end zone on third down to hold the Falcons to three points, rather than seven.
Elizabethtown’s running game was spearheaded by Devyn Clair in the first half, as he carried the ball eight times while Cayden Livingston carried the ball four times. Livingston returned after missing the previous game against Garden Spot due to an ankle injury.
“We’re going to break him [Livingston] back in. He got a little bit dinged up two weeks ago so it’s his first game back and we weren’t going to throw him to the wolves,” McDonald said.
Whether on the ground or through the air, the Bears offense was unable to put a drive together while the Falcons were finding their wings.
A 72-yard touchdown pass down the left seam gave Cedar Crest a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. On the ensuing drive, Elizabethtown attempted a wide receiver pass, but Anthony Funk was intercepted and Cedar Crest began their drive in Elizabethtown territory. Perhaps trying to capitalize on the momentum that they had, the Falcons took a shot towards the end zone on the first play after the turnover, but the pass was intercepted by Greg Good.
Cedar Crest eventually went up 17-0 on a 22-yard touchdown run that featured three missed tackles by Elizabethtown. Following the touchdown, Cedar Crest attempted an onside kick, but weren’t able to recover. The field position aided Elizabethtown in attempting a 41-yard field goal with 38 seconds left in the first half. David Shank missed the field goal and the Bears went into the half down 17-0.
This was the second time this season that Elizabethtown was held scoreless in the first half. Cocalico did the same in week four.
“Offensively, I was more concerned about making adjustments to figure out what we had. Defensively, coach [TJ] Rudy tried to light a bit of a fire and it just didn’t work out. It didn’t work out offensively or defensively,” McDonald said.
The first offensive play of the second half was a 60-yard run from Cedar Crest, but Elizabethtown’s defense was able to hold the Falcons to a 44-yard field goal attempt, which ultimately fell short.
Elizabethtown’s first possession of the second half ended with an interception on a pass that was intended for Funk. The Falcons eventually moved the ball to Elizabethtown’s 25-yard and decided to go for it on 4th and 1. The decision proved to be a fruitful one because the play resulted in a touchdown run.
As the third quarter progressed, Elizabethtown faced a 2nd and 47 and wasn’t able to convert before punting back to Cedar Crest. A juggling 15-yard touchdown pass gave Cedar Crest a 31-0 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Zach McNitt recorded Elizabethtown’s second sack of the game and Cole Livingston intercepted a pass to even the turnover margin in the fourth quarter. Elizabethtown’s lone touchdown was set up by a fumbled recovery from Clair on the Falcons’ 15-yard line. Patrick connected with Funk on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 17 second left in the fourth quarter.
The nine penalties were a season high for Elizabethtown, topping the eight that they commit against Lampeter-Strasburg.
“We’re a low-penalty team so that was a little bit unusual for us. We had a couple penalties at the wrong time. We’d get a big play and then we’d get a penalty. Then we’d get a couple big plays and we’d get two penalties in a row,” McDonald said.
Elizabethtown (5-4, 2-4) dropped four spots to No. 13 in the most recent District Three power rankings after the 31-7 loss. The Bears are scheduled to play Ephrata (0-9, 0-6) at home in the regular season finale on Friday, Nov. 3.
The Mounts have lost 50 consecutive games and are last in total offense and defense. In Section Two games, Ephrata has been outscored 376-55.