Illinois vs. Purdue game notes

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photo courtesy of illini athletics

Running back Dre Brown (25) braves the weather during Illinois’ game against Purdue. Brown led the Illini Saturday with 131 yards.

By Jared Farmer, Staff Writer

It was a perfect storm of chaos brewing at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Illini proved their homecoming win to be no fluke in the rainy conditions against the Boilermakers at Purdue Saturday afternoon. The offense remained unfazed by the weather as it stayed faithful to its run game, while the defense did everything and more to disrupt Purdue’s Jack Plummer every step of the way.

Offense: B

Graduate transfer Brandon Peters had a quiet game, only throwing for 26 yards and completing three of his six attempts. Nonetheless, the Illini remained productive with the football in their hands.

The Illini got off to a slow first quarter, but junior kicker James McCourt put the Illini up 3-0 with a 38-yard field goal with 2:47 seconds left in the first.

Peters scored the first offensive touchdown for the Illini with 1:41 left in the half after being guided into the end zone, putting them up 17-0, and got their final touchdown by way of a 20-yard run by senior receiver Reggie Corbin at the end of the third quarter.

Senior running back Dre Brown led the Illini with 131 rush yards, while junior Ra’Von Bonner and Corbin added 48 and 47 rush yards respectively. Despite not having much going in the passing game, the difference ended up being the Illini rushing just over 100 more yards than the Boilermakers.

“Offensively we had a great game plan,” said head coach Lovie Smith. “When you have rainy conditions, you’ve got to be able to run the football. Coach Rod Smith and our offensive staff did a great job executing that.”

Defense: A+

Illinois flooded freshman quarterback Jack Plummer worse than the rain flooded Ross-Ade Stadium. The Boilermakers were nearly shutout for the entire game, had it not been for a 99-yard, 13 play drive that ended with an 11-yard pass from backup quarterback Aidan O’Connell to Durham Payne at the 5:49 mark.

Junior punter Blake Hayes consistently put the Boilermakers in unfavorable field positions, often placing Purdue behind its own 10-yard line.

Turnovers were turned into points twice Saturday afternoon. Around the 10-minute mark in the second period, Plummer threw a 13-yard pick-six to junior cornerback Tony Adams. The interception is Adams’ second of the season, his last one being the interception that set the Illini up for their final scoring drive in the win against the Badgers.

The next turnover, a forced fumble by fellow junior cornerback Nate Hobbs, put the Illini well within scoring position at the Boilermakers’ 22-yard line, setting up the later drive and touchdown by Corbin.

Senior cornerback Stanley Green led the Illini in tackles with nine, while senior linebacker Dele Harding and sophomore free safety Sydney Brown each had eight. Senior lineman Jamal Milan tackled for a loss four times and added one of two sacks for the Illini.

“It started with the defensive side of the ball,” Smith said. “Our line gave them great pressure, and we were disruptive throughout the game. We did a great job with taking the football away, especially with Tony Adams, doing it in his second game at cornerback.”

Dre Brown: A

With a career-best 131 yards rushed and 18 carries, Brown was the lifeblood the Illini offense needed. In his second carry, he pushed through the defense and into the midfield to cap off a 44-yard rush into Purdue territory.

Brown got the offense fired back up in the second with back-to-back carries of 21 and 25 yards to push all the way to Purdue’s 3-yard line, giving way for the touchdown by Peters to go up 17-0. For the rest of the afternoon, Brown rushed for 21 yards on nine attempts.

“Dre Brown just seems to step up in different roles,” Smith said. “Whatever you ask him to do, he does it well.”

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