Sep. 18—For nearly the entire game, nothing seemed to go in Effingham's direction.
However, the Flaming Hearts found a sliver of hope in the waning moments Friday night against Mattoon (2-2, 2-1 Apollo Conference) that gave them a chance.
With 2:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Tanner Pontious dropped back and found junior wide receiver Armando Estrada in stride for a 79-yard score to make it a six-point game, 20-14, with plenty of time left. That play also awakened an otherwise quiet crowd at Klosterman Field.
The crowd behind them in a one-score game, though, couldn't get the Hearts over the top in the end, as Effingham's attempt to tie the game ended with an interception and Mattoon's sideline celebrating.
After the touchdown, the Flaming Hearts forced the Green Wave to punt, albeit in negative territory for Effingham, forcing them to go nearly the length of the field to tie the game and just over one minute to do it.
On the first play of the series, Pontious found senior wide receiver Max Nelson for an 18-yard gain that moved the chains.
Then, Pontious found Estrada on the far sideline for nine yards, but the clock continued to run after he failed to get out of bounds to stop it.
Thirty seconds were left, leaving the Flaming Hearts to act quickly, but they couldn't do it.
On the next play, Pontious rolled out to his left and rushed toward the sideline. He gained six yards on the play but still couldn't get out of bounds to stop the clock, forcing Effingham to snap the ball quickly and spike it, setting up the game-sealing interception and ending another night for the Hearts, which left them leaving with more questions than answers.
"Penalties and negative plays put you behind the chains, and then you got to try and throw the ball, and that puts your quarterback in a tough spot," Effingham head coach Brett Hefner said. "Everybody in the stadium knows you're going to throw it, and that makes it tough, but we didn't do enough correctly tonight to deserve to win."
The Hearts finished with six penalties, including three holding infractions that bit them one too many times in the end.
Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 217-347-7151 ext. 124 or email@example.com