The Effingham Hearts football team opened up their 2016 season against the number four team in Class 4A and a State Semi-finalist last year in Breese Mater Dei.
The scoring came early for the host, Mater Dei, in the first quarter. It started with an early end around play inside the five yard line to punch Mater Dei in for the first score of the season with 6:29 left in the first quarter.
Effingham put a nice drive together but after going for it on fourth down on the Mater Dei 15 yard line, they were stopped and forced to give the ball away, but deep in Mater Dei territory.
Mater Dei suffered a holding penalty to back them up to their own five yard line where the Effingham defense looked to keep them pinned. The next play, Jake Wieter got a couple blocks and found a hole and was gone where nobody could catch him. A 95 yard run and a PAT, Mater Dei led 14-0 with 1:56 to go still in the first.
The ensuing kickoff, the Effingham return man muffed the kick and Mater Dei recovered on the Effingham 28 yard line. It took just two plays and a little bit under a minute before Colin Schuetz ran in from 22 yards out to give the Knights a 21-0 lead after just the first quarter.
An eight play drive starting at their own 37 yard line was the first time Effingham put the ball in the endzone. It was running back Terrence Hill who powered in from two yards out to put Effingham on the board for the first time in the 2016 season and put the Hearts right back into the game with 1:37 left to go in the first half.
Effingham got the ball to start the second half. The two teams combined for six possessions before either team had a first down, the first five were all three and outs. The Hearts got great field position when they were able to pick off Schuetz at their own 47 yard line.
After seven plays, and the first first down of the half, Effingham turned the ball over on downs at the Mater Dei 33 yard line.
Then another three and out and a punt for Mater Dei set up Effingham with the ball at their own 32.
It took nine plays and a couple big passes from quarterback Landon Wolfe for Effingham’s Hill to run in another touchdown and make the game a single possession game. Effingham did miss the extra point so it was 21-13 with 7:38 to go in the game.
The next drive for Mater Dei was the first time they got a first down in the half and they got more than just one. It was running back Wieter who put the team on his back and ran all over the exhausted Effingham defense. It ended up being a nine play drive, taking off just under five minutes of the game clock before the Knights answered right back with a play action pass to a wide open receiver to put a dagger in the Hearts comeback.
The final score from Breese Mater Dei was the Mater Dei Knights 27, Effingham Hearts 13.
Effingham will take another long road trip next week to play at Jerseyville who was just 1-8 last season, but returns a lot of starters to this years squad.