Comeback has them believing

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By Derek Barichello

It was only head coach Ron Zook’s first game, but he already had the Illini doing something that has only been done once in their 115-year history.

The 33-30 win over Rutgers in overtime, after trailing 27-7, marked the biggest come-from-behind victory in school history. The other time the Illini came back from a 20-point margin was a 35-29 triumph over Michigan in 1999.

With the victory, the team has shown its slogan “believe,” is not just something on a bumper sticker.

“Coach Zook was running up and down the sidelines saying ‘Believe, believe,'” said running back E.B. Halsey. “That’s not something we just say. Rutgers is a great team, but we were making mistakes. We knew that once we started to get into a rhythm, we started clicking as an offense, we started to look better.”

One of the players that continued to believe was quarterback Tim Brasic.

In the first half, Brasic looked rattled, completing five-of-nine passing attempts for 38 yards. Despite the poor start, Brasic kept his composure. He had a strong second half showing, completing 19 of 25 passes, finishing with 233 yards, including three touchdown passes.

“I could tell after the first half that he was fine,” Zook said. “He’s a competitor, and that’s what you’ve got to have.”

Although the offense rallied in the second half for the victory, the defense held its ground to keep them in the game.

“We just kept fighting,” Brasic said. “At halftime, if you guys were down there, it was like it was 0-0.”

Flakes Reinstated

The Illini announced redshirt-freshman quarterback Kisan Flakes, who was suspended for violation of team rules, will be reinstated to the Illini football team on Monday.

He will miss a miniumum of three games, but can rejoin the team in daily workouts.

“Kisan is very remorseful,” Zook said. “He understands he made a very serious mistake. We’re going to give him an opportunity to come back and be a part of this program. Kisan knows that he cannot so much as blink wrong.”

Zook said he talked to athletic director Ron Guenther and Flakes’ fellow teammates before making the decision.

“We’re going to work him back in at his speed,” Zook said. “The team would like to have him back, and we’d like to have him back as long as he does the things that he is supposed to do.”

Getting Off On The Right Foot

Illinois head coach Ron Zook became the first coach since Mike White in 1980 to win his inaugural game as Illinois’ head coach. White’s Illini defeated Northwestern 35-9 at Memorial Stadium.

Touchdown Brasic

Tim Brasic’s three touchdowns on Saturday were the first time an Illini quarterback accomplished that feat, since Jon Buetjer threw for three touchdowns against Purdue on Sept. 25, 2004.

Brasic’s 77 yards on the ground led the Illini, making him the first quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Ryan Menkhausen’s 31-yard performance on Oct. 24, 1987.

The 1,000 Yard Club

E.B. Halsey reached 1,000 career yards this weekend becoming the 32nd running back in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

Instant Replay

The Big Ten initiated the instant replay rule this season. Two plays were reviewed in Saturday’s game. One call was upheld and one call was overturned.

Supporting The Orange And Blue

Former head basketball coach Lou Henson and current head coach Bruce Weber were among the 50,112 in attendance at Memorial Stadium.