Hearts Football Playoff Hopes Come to an End


Published on October 5 2012 11:41 pm
Last Updated on October 6 2012 7:22 am
Written by Greg Sapp


The Effingham Hearts were eliminated from the high school football playoff hunt Friday night with a 16-7 loss to the Mattoon Green Wave. 

The game was heard on 979XFM and www.979xfm.com. 

The loss dropped the Hearts to 2-5 on the season and rules out a playoff trip for the first time in 10 seasons.  Mattoon improved to 4-3 on the campaign on their Homecoming Night.

The game was played for most of the first half in a rainstorm.  Both teams kept the ball on the ground and the game sped by, with the first quarter taking only 20 minutes to complete.  There was no score at the end of the period.

Effingham began a drive, though, with about 3:30 left in the quarter that led to their only score of the game.  The drive stretched to 17 plays covering 80 yards and taking 8:11 of the game to complete, resulting in Logan Howell's one-yard touchdown run with 7:01 to go in the second quarter.  Zach Miller's extra point kick gave the Hearts a 7-0 lead.

The Green Wave responded on their next possession, taking six plays and 2:27 to cover 49 yards capped when Jacob Stephens scored from 19 yards out.  However, Mattoon failed to convert on its extra-point try and the Hearts maintained a 7-6 lead.

Mattoon began a drive on its 22-yard line with 1:35 left before halftime that gave them a lead they would never relinquish.  The Green Wave drove the ball to the Hearts' seven-yard line before deciding to kick a 22-yard field goal that gave Mattoon a 9-7 lead at the half.

Mattoon scored at the end of a nine-play 71-yard drive with 7:13 left in the third quarter that saw quarterback Jared Pilson score from two yards out to make the score 16-7.

The Hearts moved the ball at times in the second half, but could never punch it into the end zone.

Effingham gained 214 yards on the ground, 88 yards in the second half, and rang up 58 yards through the air, 36 in the second half, for 272 yards rushing and receiving on the night along with 17 first downs.

Mattoon gained 245 yards on the ground, 148 in the second half, and 82 yards through the air, 31 in the second half, for 327 yards rushing and receiving for the game with 18 first downs.

For the Hearts, Logan Howell led the way with 70 yards on 13 carries including the touchdown.  Quarterback Nathan Vail rushed 14 times for 48 yards, Billy Arndt carried the ball seven times for 47 yards, and Caydin Vaughn rushed 11 times for 42 yards.  Levi Michael had two carries for seven yards.

Jacob Stephens led the Green Wave ground game, gaining 147 yards on 17 carries, 118 of that after halftime and a touchdown.  Pilson, the quarterback, rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown.  Mitch Hirsch carried six times for 19 yards, and Jeremy Woodyard rushed three times for 14 yards.

Vail was five of 14 passing for 58 yards.  Drew Levitt caught two passes for 23 yards, Vaughn caught two passes for four yards, Zach Bloemker caught a 22-yard pass, and Carter Hayes had a nine-yard reception.

Pilson was 7 of 11 passing for Mattoon for 82 yards to six different receivers.

Zach Miller punted four times for 114 yards, Dustin Levitt had two kickoffs for 87 yards, and Miller returned three kickoffs for 26 yards.

On the tackle sheet, Tyler Johnson led the way with eight tackles, six solos, Cody Sennett had seven stops, six solos, Levi Michael had six, two solos, Bill Arndt and Payton Bushue each had five stops, Arndt one solo, Bushue three solos, Travis Durbin and Andy Salcedo each had four tackles, and each had three solo stops, Carter Hayes and Scott Deunk each had three tackles, Deunk with one solo, Trent Barnhart, Dustin Levitt and Dylan Wolff each had two stops, Levitt one solo and Wolff two solos.  Brandon Loy and Dirk Levitt each had a tackle, each a solo stop.

Next week, the Hearts will host the Mt. Zion Braves in the final conference game of the season.  It will be "Real Men Wear Pink" night and a rematch of last year's Effingham victory that snapped the Braves 28-game conference winning streak.

VIDEO: EHS vs Mattoon.