Hearts Keep Playoff Hopes Alive w/Win at Mt. Zion


Published on October 19 2013 12:27 am
Last Updated on October 20 2013 10:34 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

We'll warn you up front, this week's video is shaky. Our accomodations at Mt. Zion are good, but the deck we're on moves and sways a little a lot. Also, we had some equipment issues with Greg and Dustin's call of the game in the 4th quarter, but we continued to roll video. Post game video is dark as well, due to lighting.

If you're unable to see the video, here's the direct link.


The Effingham Hearts and the Mt. Zion Braves each needed to win Friday night to keep their football playoff hopes alive.  In the end, it was the Hearts who kept those dreams alive.

Effingham, behind three touchdown runs by Billy Arndt, defeated the Braves 27-20 in a game heard on 979XFM and www.979xfm.com

The game started as a seesaw affair.  Mt. Zion scored on a six-play, 68-yard drive capped when senior running back Austin Ray broke loose for 39 yards and the touchdown.  The pass play for two was unsuccessful, but Mt. Zion held a 6-0 first quarter lead.

The Hearts bounced right back, scoring with 2:51 left in the period to conclude a 14-play, 72-yard drive with quarterback Dylan Wolff taking it in from five yards out.  Michael Carie's kick made it 7-6 Effingham.

Mt. Zion responded with a two-play, 69-yard drive highlighted by Austin Ray's 73-yard run.  This time, a run play for two didn't work, but Mt. Zion was back in front 12-7.

Effingham came right back to score, though, traveling 67 yards on eight plays with running back Billy Arndt scoring from the five to give the Hearts the lead following Carie's kick, 14-12.

The Hearts forced Mt. Zion to punt two straight series and scored both times, both on runs by Arndt of 53 yards and 80 yards to make it 27-12 Effingham at haltime.

While the Hearts didn't score in the second half, the Braves did to conclude a five-play, 55-yard drive on a 27-yard pass play from quarterback Payton Grinestaff to Mason Bruce and a two-point conversion to pull within 27-20 with 10:49 left, but could pull no closer.

Effingham rolled up 447 yards of offense, 301 yards on the ground and 146 yards through the air.  Mt. Zion generated 366 yards, 183 yards each on the ground and through the air.  The Hearts racked up 17 first downs to 14 for Mt. Zion.

Zach Miller and Arndt each rushed for more than 100 yards; Miller 157 yards on 24 carries and Arndt 154 yards on just eight carries and the three scores.  Dylan Wolff scored the other touchdown and rushed for 12 yards on nine carries.  Trent Barnhart rushed seven times for 17 yards.

Wolff passed for 102 yards, hitting on five of 12 pass attempts.  Carter Hayes caught four passes for 70 yards and Matt Wohltman grabbed the other one for 32 yards.

Austin Ray, nearing the end of a great high school career, carried the ball 24 times for 252 yards and two touchdowns.

Payton Grinestaff threw for 111 yards for Mt. Zion, completing 16 of 30 and generating one touchdown.   Tyler Hayes caught seven passes for 39 yards and Mason Bruce caught four passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.

Travis Durbin again led the Hearts in tackles with 13, six solos.  Drew Vasquez, Brandon Loy and Khye Heuerman each had six tackles, Noah Hagen, Griffin Paige and Billy Arndt each had four tackles, Payton Bushue and Wyatt Kahley each had three stops, Marcus Robinson had two tackles, and Joe Niemann, Matt Wohltman, Alex Howell, Evan Boggs, Trent Barnhart, Trevor Murphy and Blaine Koester each had one stop.

The Hearts improved to 4-4 on the season, finished 4-1 in the Apollo Conference and improved to 3-1 on the road.  One game remains in the regular season, next Friday at Mahomet-Seymour.  The Bulldogs are still undefeated and are state-ranked.  Game time will be 7pm and you'll be able to hear the game on 979XFM and www.979xfm.com