CHARLESTON — Effingham scored on its second play of the game on a Terrence Hill 42-yard run. Charleston ran about 50 plays and was unable to find the end zone in any of the plays.
Charleston’s defense did hold Effingham to its second-lowest point total of the season, but the Trojans were also shut out for the first time this season. That allowed Effingham to pick up a 28-0 win as the Flaming Hearts claimed at least a share of the Apollo Conference title on Friday.
Charleston fell to 0-7 on the season and 0-6 in the Apollo Conference. The Flaming Hearts held Charleston to only 49 yards rushing and 60 yards through the air for 109 total yards.
“Kudos to (Effingham), they are good and their inside six play pretty well,” Charleston coach Tyler Hanner said. “They pursue the ball very well and we didn’t have much of a run game tonight.”
The Flaming Hearts' defensive backfield caused problems for the Trojans all game. Effingham also came away with three interceptions on the night and knocked away three passes in the end zone toward the end of the first half.
“Seth, for the most part, was putting balls pretty close to the money; they just came down with a couple of them and a few of them were off the tip of our hands,” Hanner said. “The passing game was just a little off. I thought our offensive line did a decent job protecting tonight. We just couldn’t run the ball.”
Effingham coach Brett Hefner said his team’s defense keeps getting better each week.
“We’ve played well all year, but the big plays have come through the air when we’ve struggled finding the ball,” Hefner said. “Find the ball, play the ball, last week interceptions. Find the ball, play the ball tonight, interceptions. We get enough pressure on the quarterback, it helps those guys in the back end. The whole defense is playing well.”
The defensive performance made Effingham playoff eligible at 6-1 overall, and the Flaming Hearts earned a share of the Apollo title with a 5-0 record with one game left for Effingham.
“They’ve wanted to do this and the great thing about this group, they are happy but they are not happy,” Hefner said. “They are in the right train of thought. They are happy to know they are playing week 10. They know they have a share of it, but they want it outright and they want to get it at home next week.”
Hill finished with 187 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Charleston did try to limit Hill the best it could, but a few big plays by Effingham’s offense hurt the Trojans on the night.
Hill had his 42-yard run, and Jordan McCabe hauled touchdown receptions of 49 and 27 yards.
“In all honesty, we gave up four big plays,” Hanner said. “Those passes, just little correctable things. I thought all-in-all, my kids played solid defense for most of the night. I am proud of the way that it wasn’t just the Terrence Hill show. I thought we did a good job of keeping him in check.”
Charleston opened the game with the ball and tried to avoid a three-and-out with a fake punt, but Effingham stopped the run at the Trojan 42-yard line.
On Effingham’s first play, Terrence Hill was stopped for a loss of 1 yard. Then on the next play, Hill got some good blocking and slipped through the hole for a 43-yard touchdown to give the Flaming Hearts a 7-0 lead.
Effingham got the ball back after an interception and faced fourth-and-10 right away, but Hill took a direct snap on a fake punt and went 12 yards for the first down. The Flaming Hearts went 46 yards in 10 plays in 5 minutes and scored on Hill’s 2-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.
Charleston went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but Effingham fumbled the punt. Caden Myerscough recovered the fumble, and the Trojans took over on the Flaming Hearts' 22-yard line. The Trojans drove to the 9-yard line, but back-to-back incomplete passes forced Charleston to turn the ball over on downs.
Effingham drove its own 46-yard line when Dayton Simpson intercepted a pass and returned it to midfield. Charleston was forced to punt, though.
The Flaming Hearts added to their lead late in the second half when Landon Wolfe found Jordan McCabe in the middle of the field, and he took off for a 49-yard touchdown as Effingham went up 21-0 with 53 seconds left before the half.
The Trojans got a good kickoff return from Quentin Hall to the Charleston 47-yard line. Seth Higgins then found Cam McDonald for a 12-yard pass and then Keagan Brady pulled down a 29-yard pass to the Effingham 11-yard line. But the Flaming Hearts knocked away a few passes to keep it a 21-0 game at halftime.
In the second half, Charleston forced Effingham to turn the ball over on downs and then later a punt, but the Trojans ended both of their drives with interceptions.
The Trojans got the ball back after Jacob Callahan recovered a fumble at the Trojan 29-yard line.
Charleston had to punt, but it only went 13 yards and Effingham took over at the Trojan 43-yard line. The Flaming Hearts started to drive but a holding call made it first-and-19, but Wolfe hit McCabe over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
Both teams were scoreless in the fourth quarter and Effingham got the 28-0 win.