After several lightening delays at Klosterman Field in Effingham, the Hearts finally took the field in their home opener against Highland at about 9:30 on Friday night.
Highland’s star quarterback, Garrett Marti, had to scramble out of the pocket on a long third down play for the Bulldogs in the first quarter. Marti’s pass was picked off by a Hearts defender in Highland territory to give Effingham a short field on their first offensive possession.
Five plays later, Effingham’s Terrence Hill found the endzone to give the Hearts their first lead on home turf.
It didn’t last long though as Marti and the Highland offense ran just two plays, both QB runs, for 55 yards and a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 in the first.
After an Effingham punt, Highland went on a lengthy drive that took up eight plays and almost two and a half minutes before running back Trent Rakers ran in to give Highland the lead. The Highland extra point was blocked so the score was 13-7 still in the first quarter.
Effingham scored on their first offensive drive, but after that they recorded three punts and two turn over on downs before they found the endzone again. In the meantime, Highland’s offense did not stall.
This time, it took 12 plays to cover 60 yards for the Bulldogs and ate up almost five minutes of the clock before Rakers went in for another touchdown. Highland attempted to go for two, but failed and the score was 19-7 early in the second quarter.
Highland took the ball back after Effingham turned it over on downs. This drive was a different story for Highland, it took just 19 seconds for two plays to get into the endzone on a long Marti run.
Effingham was again forced to punt, but they got the ball right back when they recovered a bad handoff from Marti to his running back. Again, Effingham took advantage of a Highland turnover. They used over four minutes of the clock to go 61 yards on 13 plays for a Lucas Vasquez QB sneak into the endzone from three yards out. Highland led 26-14 late in the first half.
Just one play later, Highland found themselves up by three scores again. A pass from Marti to Brady Feldman who was coming out of the backfield went for 68 yards and a touchdown with just over a minute to play in the first half. Highland went up 33-14 at the half.
The beginning of the second half started with an Effingham interception, a Highland turnover on downs, an Effingham punt, another Highland turnover on downs, and another Effingham interception before anyone was able to score.
Also, about three minutes into the third quarter, the game was delayed about another 45 minutes for some more lightening.
Finally, Highland put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter with an eight play, 91 yard drive capped off by a Rakers touchdown run to give Highland the 41-14 lead in the fourth.
Another Effingham punt led to a quick four play, 95 yard drive for Highland where Feldman broke free for an 83 yard touchdown run to give Highland the win, 47-14.
Effingham’s Terrence Hill racked up 30 carries and 148 yards and one touchdown run.
With the loss, Effingham drops to 1-2 on the season and begins Apollo Conference play next week at home against Charleston (2-1).