EHS Homecoming

Effingham High School quarterback Curran McNeely fights through an attempted tackle by Robinson’s Zachary Hodson.

Homecoming doesn’t get any better than this . . . festivities galore, autumn in the air and a 41-0 trouncing of Robinson in Apollo Conference football action Friday evening at Klosterman Field.

Putting together a big running game, the Hearts had Robinson on the ropes through most of the contest and finally got the running clock going in the third quarter when they hit the 40-point mark.

The defense picked up a shutout and Coach Mike McDonald couldn’t have been more pleased with all phases of his game except one . . . the penalty situation.

“The offensive line did a great job opening holes tonight,” said McDonald. “We got the extra yardage and made the plays. We finally toughened up tonight. We were able to turn some things around. But once again we had way too many penalties.”

Things started to look a little “nightmarish” in the first quarter when Robinson took the ball and started a classic march downfield.

“That was my worst nightmare,” said McDonald. “I dreamed about those drives all night long and what did Robinson do but come out and start right off with a long drive.”

The Maroons took the kickoff going 18 plays and picking up 77 yards. They marched downfield from their own 23 yard line reaching the Effingham three yard line. During that drive, Effingham was flagged for four penalties equaling 20 yards giving the Maroons a first down on one of those flags.

Finally the Maroons stood at the EHS three yard line but Justin Roepke came up with a big stop throwing Zachary Hodson for a one yard loss and finally stopping Robinson with 2:52 remaining in the opening quarter.

“Unfortunately we gave up 20 yards of penalties on that drive and you just can’t do that,” said McDonald. “But Justin made a good tackle and that got us going and loosened us up.”

The Hearts didn’t have much time to get untracked in the opening quarter but came back in the second period with a vengeance. Robinson took over but had to punt the ball. Roepke again got the Hearts going. He took the punt only to fumble it, then picked it up and was off to the races. Roepke went 71 yards for the touchdown with 10:21 showing. The point after failed but the Hearts were on the board.

Once again, EHS came up with a big play, this time on the defensive side of the ball. Effingham’s John Newsome recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and the Hearts were in great field position at the Robinson 33 yard line. EHS picked up a first down on a 15 yard scamper by Roepke. A 10 yard penalty pushed the Hearts back but Nick Jones went nine yards and Curran McNeely picked up the first down and the Hearts stood at the 13. Two penalties by Robinson put the ball at the three yard line. Roepke went two yards and McNeely kept the ball and plunged in from a yard out with 7:01 on the clock. The point after again failed but the Hearts had pushed into a 12-0 lead.

Robinson again had a march that went nine plays picking up 22 yards but Effingham’s Blake Wesselman ended the drive when he intercepted a pass.

Then it was interception time for both teams. Logan Laflin intercepted a McNeely pass and then on the next play, Hank Zerrusen picked off a Robinson pass. Robinson came right back two plays later and grabbed another McNeely pass and that’s where the half ended.

“It was frustrating at the end of the first half when we had all those interceptions,” said McDonald. “I thought our conditioning showed up in the second half . We looked a lot fresher and Robinson began to tire.”

Effingham came right back out fired up and scored on its first drive of the third period. Zach Scott went big yards for a score but it was called back because of a penalty. But Scott took the handoff again and went 65 yards with 11:05 showing to score. The point after once again failed but the Hearts led 18-0.

Robinson fumbled on its first play of the second half and Effingham recovered.

With 10:29 showing, Jones scored on a 29 yard run. McNeely then connected with Matt Devall for the point after and EHS went ahead 26-0.

On a roll now, the Hearts took over on downs and scored once again. This touchdown came with 7:46 showing. Jones went in from nine yards out and Roepke went in for the extra point and EHS led 34-0.

The Hearts pushed one final touchdown across in the third quarter. EHS took over on downs once again and started at its own 26 yard line. Jones picked up 18 yards and a Robinson 15 yard penalty picked up another first down. EHS picked its way down to the 36 yard line and from there, Scott took the handoff and went in with 2:38 on the clock. Ben Cisna kicked the extra point and the Hearts went ahead 41-0 and that started the running clock.

“Dylan Webb and Nick Jones played good games,” said McDonald. “The offensive line did a great job opening holes. Mike Dow went out early with an injury. It looks like he sprained an ankle but hope-fully we can get him back next week.

“Our front four did a great job. Matt Robb, Andy Cohorst, Joe Dasenbrock and Jacob Carter did a heckuva job. They were underneath the pile all night long. John Newsome, Kaleb Kuhlman, Dow, Roepke and Ryne Gartner picked up a lot of tackles tonight.”

Webb led the Hearts offensively with 13 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown. McNeely had 12 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. Roepke picked up 22 yards on three carries while Jones went 117 yards on 12 carries and plunged in twice for a score.

Kuhlman led the Hearts in tackles with 13. He had two solo stops. Newsome had 12 tackles with three solo stops. Robb had nine assists while Roepke had six assists and two solo tackles.

The victory lifts the Hearts to 2-2 in the conference, 2-3 overall. Robinson drops to 1-3 in the conference, 1-4 overall.

“We’re unbeaten here at home right now,” said McDonald. “We had another great crowd. Luckily the weather held off. Give the crowd credit. It was a great atmosphere here tonight. Now I’m hoping things jell together. Next week is another big week. We have our ground game going and we just need to continue.”

The Hearts will play host to Charleston next week in an AC contest.

Millie Lange can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 124 or


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