EHS fball vs Mahomet

Effingham’s Terrence Hill (42) breaks loose for a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Hill scored five TDs, leading the Hearts to a 41-6 win over Mahomet-Seymour.

By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
When the season began, nobody was quite sure what to expect from this Effingham football team.
And that didn’t change after a season-opening loss at Breese Mater Die.
But then things began to turn around.
And now five games later, the Hearts are state-ranked, dominating opponent after opponent and simply getting better each week.
For those fans not already on the EHS bandwagon, now is the time to climb aboard.
The Hearts made it five straight wins Friday night and did so in surprisingly easy fashion. The defense was stifling, Terrence Hill was unstoppable and the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs had no answers on either side of the ball.
When the final horn sounded, Effingham celebrated a 41-6 Homecoming victory at Jack Klosterman Field, knowing they were alone atop the Apollo Conference standings and in total control of their own fate.
“We’ve got something special going,” EHS coach Brett Hefner told his team moments after the victory.
“We’re on top of the Apollo and that’s a good position to be in,” Hefner added. “There are good teams in this league. I know how hard it is to win it. But winning the conference is first and foremost what this group wants to do.”
And the Hearts took a big step in reaching that goal Friday night. By all indications, it was expected to be a close, hard-fought game.
But there are reasons that never materialized.
It was the best overall defensive effort of the season. The Bulldogs simply couldn’t move the football. Until the last drive of the game against the Effingham reserves, they had negative yards rushing and no points on the scoreboard.
Mahomet-Seymour finished with 32 rushing yards and 39 of those came in the final three minutes on the final possession. The Bulldogs scored on the last play of the game.
And a Hearts secondary that has had trouble defending receivers this season blanketed the Bulldogs. MSHS quarterback Dawson Finch completed just 5-of-23 attempts for 30 yards and was intercepted twice, both times by EHS defensive back Jordan McCabe.
Holding a team to just 62 total yards is a clear indication of how tough that Effingham defense was, forcing three turnovers, including a fumble recovery by Frank Schneiderjon to go along with McCabe’s two picks.
“It was easily our best complete defensive game of the year,” Hefner admitted. “It’s hard to run the ball against our defense; it just is. And our secondary really played well. Their technique has improved and they did a tremendous job of playing the ball.”
And offensively, Hill had another huge game, running for 265 yards and scoring five touchdowns. The school’s career rushing leader has now scored 21 TDs this season and is closing in on the single-season school record of 28, set by Nick Jones in 2007.
“He is so conditioned and so good,” Hefner noted. “He has a knack for finishing runs and not taking big hits. He has good vision and makes such good cuts. He’s just pretty good.”
But the Hearts’ passing game has also improved a great deal. Quarterback Landon Wolfe is throwing with more accuracy and more confidence. He completed 11-of-14 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown.
“Landon has a good understanding of where to go with the football,” Hefner said. “He’s throwing it real well right now.”
The tone Friday was set on the second play. A bad snap got away from Finch and Schneiderjon pounced on it, giving the Hearts the ball just 12 yards away from the Mahomet-Seymour goal line. On the very first play, Hill broke loose around the right side for the score. Only 56 seconds into the game and EHS was on top, 7-0.
The Hearts’ next two possessions ended with a punt and a Hill fumble. But one play after the turnover, McCabe hauled in his first interception, giving Effingham the ball back at its own 18 yard line with 5:34 left in the opening period.
Effingham responded by putting together one of its most impressive drives of the season.
The Hearts ran 17 plays, took seven minutes off the clock and covered 82 yards. Hill was the workhorse, carrying it 11 times for 57 yards. But Wolfe completed three passes on the drive, two to Dylan Bushur and another to Logan Smith. Hill covered the final three yards to make 14-0.
After another three-and-out by the Hearts defense, the offense went back to work. Despite starting the drive with two penalties, Hill broke off a 19-yarder and then took advantage of a huge hole created by his offensive line and raced untouched down the sideline for a 65-yard TD that increased the Hearts lead to 21-0, which they took to the locker room at halftime.
Effingham opened the second half with another strong drive, this time marching 59 yards on 12 plays. Hill carried the ball on 10 of those snaps and Wolfe hit two more passes, including a nine-yard scoring strike to Smith to make it 28-0.
Mahomet tried a fake punt on its next possession, but it failed and the EHS offense was back in business at the Bulldogs 20. Backup quarterback Nathan Schackelford completed a 13-yard pass to Smith and Hill capped the four-play drive with a 14-yard burst and it was 35-0.
McCabe grabbed his second interception a couple minutes later, giving Effingham another short field. This time the Hearts ran six plays and capped the 28-yard drive with Hill’s fifth TD of the game, a two-yard run.
The Hearts finished with 374 yards of total offense, compared to the Bulldogs 62.
“We didn’t expect this kind of domination,” Hefner admitted. “But we really did dominate in all phases. It was just an unbelievable effort. I’m super proud of these kids.”
And Hefner was pleased it came on Homecoming Week.
“I love the way these kids prepare, the way they compete and their confidence level,” he noted. “This is a special group of young men that have a special season going. I’m confident they will continue to make good decisions and keep it going.”
The Hearts improved to 5-1 overall and remained undefeated in the Apollo Conference at 4-0. They will go on the road for the final time when they travel to Charleston Friday night. The Trojans are 0-6 on the season and are coming off a 40-14 loss to Lincoln.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.