A number of early mistakes put Effingham in a big hole in its season opener against Breese Mater Dei Friday night and the Hearts couldn't climb out, falling 34-15.
The Knights scored 28 of the game's first 31 points, and while the Flaming Hearts kept fighting in the second, the lead was insurmountable.
"Too many mistakes, gave them good field position and they took advantage," said Effingham coach Mike McDonald.
Following an early 30-yard touchdown pass from Breese's Sam Toennies to Nick Hitpas, Effingham trailed 7-0. A long drive showed some promise as quarterback Kevin Daugherty hit a 34-yard pass to Marcus Robinson and a 15-yarder to Matt Wohltman to bring Effingham to the one-yard line.
A fumbled snap set Effingham back four yards, and the Hearts couldn't punch it in after that, settling for a 23-yard field goal to cut the score to 7-3.
The Hearts forced a three-and-out, but couldn't move the ball themselves. On fourth and 22, the Hearts lined up to punt.
Or so it seemed. A fake punt was executed from the Hearts' 26 for no gain, giving Breese prime field position.
Six plays later on fourth and goal from the one, Toennies ran it in on an option to make it 14-3.
"We had miscommunication when we should have been punting," McDonald said. "We wanted to punt the ball out of there, miscommunication on that, and we ran the ball and gave them good field position."
The teams traded possession, but Breese's late second quarter punt turned into a missed Hearts opportunity. Sophomore Drew Vasquez muffed the punt and Austin Timmermann recovered for the Knights. Effingham looked to have stopped them on third down near the end zone, but Wohltman was called for pass interference. Two plays later, Jordan Raterman scored and sent Breese to the locker rooms up 20-3.