Frustration follows in football loss

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By Lisa Koulias

Illinois knew it was the underdog in Saturday’s football game against No. 15 Purdue. And even though the Illini proved to Purdue, and the Big Ten, that they shouldn’t be taken lightly this year, the team was frustrated with its 38-30 loss.

“Our guys fought their tails off today and kept competing,” Illinois head coach Ron Turner said. “However, we came here to get a win so it hurts. I think we have a chance to be a good football team and we took a step in the right direction today. We are going to continue to play with this type of passion, continue to compete and get a win.”

Purdue, which improved to 3-0, held its opponents to only seven points and 197 yards in its first two games. Illinois put up 390 total offensive yards against the Boilermaker defense.

“Illinois had a real sense of purpose when they hit the field,” Purdue head coach Joe Tiller said. “They really showed up, and it propelled them in a great first half of football. I thought that Illinois really came out playing quality football. Quite frankly, they out-hit us in the first half, particularly their offense versus our defense.

“This helps you when you go on the road. I don’t care where it is or who it’s against or what the circumstances are. As a matter of fact, I’m glad we had a tough game today versus something we’ve had the past few weeks. I thought from looking at the tapes during the week that Illinois is a much-improved team. I thought that the changes they made with their personnel really helped them. I felt that this was going to be a tight game coming in. And we needed to win a tight game,” Tiller said.

Things didn’t start off as planned for the Illini. In their first play of the game, they fumbled on Purdue’s 5-yard line and lost senior Ade Adeyemo to a broken leg.

“We started off with the worst-case scenario on offense, and I know a lot of people were thinking ‘Oh, here we go again,'” fullback Jason Davis said. “But we fought back and we just came up short. I think we showed everybody that we’re going to fight every Saturday. This one just slipped out of our hands.”

Although Purdue scored on the following drive, the Illini offense stepped up and put its own points on the board.

Illinois’ Pierre Thomas, E.B. Halsey and Davis ran all over the Purdue defense for 208 rushing yards.

“First half, we might have been a little bit asleep,” Purdue defensive back Anthony Spencer said. “They were just running the ball all over us, and we weren’t doing anything to stop them. The second half we had a nice little pep talk and we got going. We stepped it up in the second half and played real well.”

Heisman candidate Kyle Orton kept the Illini defense on its toes, as he passed for 366 yards and four touchdowns.

“He’s been in their system and he knows it so well,” Turner said. “We tried to mix our looks up, but no matter what you’re doing he knows where to go with the ball.”

Quarterback Jon Beutjer completed 22-of-37 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Beutjer, who missed last week’s game due to injury, said he felt fine throughout the game.

Davis had a solid game for the Illini too. In addition to his 77 yards rushing, Davis connected with Beutjer five times for 45 yards. The junior also had two touchdowns.

“Jason had a great game,” Turner said. “He’s had a great year so far and he’s playing with a lot of confidence. I think he’s trying to show us and tell us to put the ball in his hands more. He’s also blocking well and doing whatever he can to help this team win.”

Despite the encouraging performances by several Illini, the team still came up short, even if it was only by eight points.

“It’s frustrating for everyone,” Turner said. “We came in this game to win. We didn’t come in there to play close like a lot of people talked about. We came in here prepared to win this football game and we didn’t get it done.”