Illinois falls to Northwestern 29-10 in final regular-season game


Jonathan Bonaguro

Head coach Lovie Smith stands on the sidelines during Illinois’ game against Iowa on Nov. 23. Saturday, Illinois fell to Northwestern 29-10 on Senior Day, closing out the team’s regular season. Captured at Kinnick Stadium on 23 Nov. 2019 by Jonathan Bonaguro.

By Miles Powers-Huang, Staff Writer

Wet, muggy, ugly – a few words for the weather during Illinois’ 29-10 loss to Northwestern on Saturday.

With both teams forced to turn to backup quarterbacks, freshman Matt Robinson for Illinois and Andrew Marty for Northwestern, there were more than a few head-scratching plays from both sides.

The Wildcats opened scoring on a field goal from Charlie Kuhbander with three minutes remaining in the first quarter, the only scoring done in the first 15 minutes.

In the second quarter, junior Nate Hobbs intercepted a pass and set the Illini offense up with a short field, and senior Dre Brown ran for a six-yard touchdown to put Illinois up 7-3.

Northwestern responded, however, as Marty capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive with a 12-yard rushing touchdown to restore the Wildcats’ lead, 10-7.

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After the halftime break, junior James McCourt missed a potential game-tying field goal, and Northwestern immediately drove the ball 69 yards on the following drive for another touchdown, culminating in a 34-yard touchdown from Marty to Riley Lees.

Illinois got back into the game after being down 17-10, as McCourt redeemed himself by clanking the ball through off of the right upright from 50 yards away, cutting the lead to 17-13.

On the Wildcats following drive, senior Stanley Green appeared to secure a critical end-zone interception, but an illegal hands-to-the-face penalty on junior Ayo Shogbonyo nullified the play, and Marty snuck in from a yard out to make the score 23-10 two plays later.

The Illini failed to respond, and the Wildcats punctuated the win with a 24-yard touchdown run from Coco Azema with just over one minute remaining.

With the loss, Illinois dropped to 6-6, while Northwestern took home the Land of Lincoln Trophy to conclude a 3-9 season.

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