ARCOLA — An LSA touchdown with 55.5 seconds left gave the Lions hope against Arcola on Friday night.
But the Lions couldn't recover the onside kick and Arcola hung on for a 37-36 win to clinch a playoff spot.
Arcola coach Nick Lindsey was concerned about LSA's quarterback Mike Fiala and the Lions' skill players. His concern proved valid as the Lions — a co-op of LSA, Decatur Christian and Mount Pulaski — came out and took a 22-7 lead with Fiala throwing for 106 yards passing, including a 65-yard pass to Jalen Jones. Jones also had a rushing touchdown of 62 yards.
The Purple Riders (6-2, 4-1 Little Okaw Valley Northwest) scored 17 unanswered points in the final 8:59 of the first half and extended the run to 24 points, taking a 30-22 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Lindsey called a time-out just before the LSA onside kick.
"You practice those situations and you know you might not ever use them," said Lindsey who put more players on the right side, which was where the ball was kicked. "I am glad we practice that and the players made the play when it counted."
Austin Hopkins finished with 38 carries for 205 yards and two touchdowns, while Pedro Gauna had 13 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.
The Lions were led by Fiala who was 13-for-27 for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Monticello 49, Fairbury Prairie Central 20
MONTICELLO — Prairie Central (6-2) hung with unbeaten Monticello (8-0) early, but the Sages scored three times unanswered in the second half to pull away.
The Sages' Braden Snyder was 14-of-23 passing for 270 yards and five touchdowns. Devin Graham caught five of those passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
"I thought we got off to a difficult start, but give Prairie Central credit for their success on offense," Monticello coach Cully Welter said. "I was happy with the way our kids responded after halftime.”
Argenta 50, ALAH 21
ARGENTA — Argenta-Oreana took a 38-0 lead on its way to an 8-0 start.
Bombers quarterback Josh Williams threw for five touchdowns and ran for another. Four of Williams' TD passes were to Makail Stanley, who had four catches for 122 yards. Williams was 7-of-15 passing for 199 yards.
"We threw it pretty well tonight and that's a real positive for us," Argenta coach Steve Kirk said. "I thought overall we played a pretty solid game all around. Our defense was good. We were good in the kicking game for the most part.”
Cerro Gordo-Bement 43, Sangamon Valley 22
NIANTIC — The Storm kept it close, but the Broncos became playoff-eligible at 5-3 with the win.
“It was a good game — well-played on both sides," Cerro Gordo-Bement Nick Walker said. "Everybody played hard. It was a really good game. Sangamon Valley is tough. They’re always tough.
"But we’ve got three seniors — Dylan Upton, Ethan Mann, and Matthew Guffey — that are doing a really good job of picking the team up and carrying the team. The line played well tonight. The boys, they just played hard. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores stepping up, and that’s a good thing to see.”
Olney 27, Newton 12
OLNEY — Olney gained playoff eligibility by knocking off a Newton team also likely headed for the playoffs.
The Tigers' Dakota Brown rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns and also passed for 164 yards and a TD.
"This was a big win for us," Olney coach Matt Music said. "The guys responded well after an early touchdown and carried it through to the second half. Dakota Brown played great tonight. He managed really well. We’re all proud of the team win.”
Effingahm 41, Mattoon 21
MATTOON — In a game where whoever won, that team was guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, Effingham took control early with a nine-play scoring drive to start the game.
Mattoon never really recovered. Effingham went up 14-0 and Mattoon was playing catchup the rest of the way and the Green Wave couldn’t stop the Flaming Hearts offense at key times.
Not only were the Flaming Hearts hard to stop on Friday, the Green Wave had trouble moving the football. Mattoon only had 201 yards of total offense.
Effingham (6-2, 5-1 Apollo) lost some key players from last season and started the year 0-2, but has bounced back and is on a six-game winning streak.
“This group has been unbelievable. Their improvement every week, the way they compete and the way they work,” Effingham coach Brett Hefner said. “It’s an impressive group of kids.”
Effingham had 399 yards of total offense and 271 of that came on the ground. Kendall Ballman rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our guys up front are playing a lot better. We had three new starters to start the year and it took a little bit to get going,” Hefner said. “They have a good understanding of the system and the one thing I love about our kids, we have kids that compete and they are tough and they just compete.”