Too many untimely penalties. Too many turnovers. And too much Matese Scott.
It was a simple as that Friday night at Klosterman Field, as the Effingham football team fell to 0-3 with a 28-6 loss to the Orphans.
Scott bulled his way to 258 yards on 39 carries, while the Hearts’ efforts to come back from a 13-0 halftime deficit were derailed by a pair of holding penalties and an interception in the third quarter.
The Hearts enter Week 4 winless for the second season in a row after making the playoffs nine straight years, but coach Mike McDonald reminded his team that the season is far from lost. Effingham begins Apollo Conference play next Friday at Charleston.
“We have to believe in ourselves and understand the Apollo Conference season starts next week,” McDonald said. “If we can run the table in our conference we can accomplish a lot of our goals. We’ve got to realize it’s a new season starting next week.”
And there is no question a tough nonconference schedule has prepared the Hearts for Apollo play.
“I don’t know if anybody we’ve played yet has lost a game yet,” McDonald said. “We’ve play some pretty stiff competition. I’ve told the kids that good competition makes you better.”
The Orphans were the latest tough opponent, and Scott was a huge reason why Centralia moved to 3-0.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound tailback gave the Orphans a lead they would not relinquish early in the second quarter, as he used a spin move to break a pair of tackles and score from 24 yards out.
The Orphans went to their air for their other first-half touchdown march. Quarterback Brodric Green passed for 83 of the 88 yards of a drive capped by a 51-yard touchdown pass to Alec Stevenson, who broke free near the line of scrimmage on the short pass for a score.
The Orphans outgained Effingham in the total yardage department 335-132 in the first half, but the Hearts were still down just two touchdowns at the break.
EHS stormed out of the locker room with a big kickoff return by Tyler Myers to EHS’s 49-yard line, and a Travis Durbin 28-yard run had Effingham sitting pretty at the Orphans’ 11-yard line at the start of the third quarter.
Durbin followed that up with what appeared to be a touchdown run to get the Hearts on the board, but the score was wiped away as EHS was called for holding.
Three straight incomplete passes and a missed 35-yard field goal later, and Effingham had nothing to show for its promising drive to start the half.
“That makes it 13-7 (if the penalty isn’t called) — that’s a difference,” McDonald said. “We’re right in the ballgame then and we’ve got some momentum.”
Centralia wasted little time capitalizing on the unfortunate turn of events, as Scott scored the second of his three touchdowns four plays later with a 48-yard touchdown run. Scott once again bounced off a pair of defenders near the line of scrimmage on his way to the endzone.
Moments after another holding call on the Hearts took another potential score away — this one a 39-yard Miller run — Durbin finally got Effingham on the board with 5:01 to go in the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run. The play was set up by a long catch and run by Marcus Robinson.
But the Hearts were dealt a huge blow at the end of the quarter, as Centralia intercepted a Dylan Wolff pass with 1:25 to go, ending a promising Hearts’ drive.
Scott’s 4-yard touchdown run with 6:12 to go capped a 17-play drive that sealed the game for the Orphans.
Despite the loss, there were several bright spots for the Hearts.
Wolff threw for 178 yards on 8-for-21 passing in his first game stepping in for injured starting quarterback Kevin Daugherty. But he also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. McDonald chalked up Wolff’s turnovers to inexperience.
“You can’t put in 250 reps in a week, you just can’t do that,” McDonald said. “All those things we work with Kevin during the offseason, during the summer and in the preseason, Dylan was working in his reps at receiver.
“He’s got really good instincts out there. We’ve just got to get him more reps in and get him more comfortable with his receivers.”
Myers was a spark on special teams all night, as he had kickoff returns of 28, 34 and 31 yards.
Robinson was Wolff’s primary target, hauling in three passes for 72 yards many of which came after the catch. Carter Hayes leapt high in the air and literally ripped an interception away from a Centralia defender for a 34-yard catch in the first half, and Matt Wohltman had four catches for 52 yards.
But Centralia racked up nearly 500 yards of total offense, which coupled with four EHS turnovers and the holding penalties, was simply too much to overcome.
“We’ve got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot when we make big plays,” McDonald said of the holding penalties. “It’s just so frustrating. Then sometimes you look at film and sometimes our kids are right; I don’t know if we held on every one of those plays. They are frustrated too, because they don’t think they’re holding on some of those calls.
“At times our defense played well and got some stops. At other times we didn’t make tackles and they ran off some big plays.”
Effingham (0-3) begins Apollo play next week at Charleston at 7 p.m.
Centralia 0 13 8 7 — 28
Effingham 0 0 6 0 — 6
Rushing —Centralia: Scott 39-258; Effingham: Miller 11-51, Durbin 11-49
Passing — Centralia: Green 15-24-0—215; Effingham: Wolff 8-21-3—174
Receiving — Centralia: Webster 4-78, Shipley 6-96, Alcorn 3-33; Effingham: Robinson 3-72, Wohltman 5-52, Hayes 1-34