The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illini bounce back in College Park showdown against Terrapins

James Hoeck
Kicker and punter Caleb Griffin takes a rest before getting on the field on Sept. 23. Illinois will be making a return to Memorial Stadium to face off against Wisconsin.

Illinois (3-4, 1-3) made its way to College Park for its fourth Big Ten matchup of the season, with the Maryland Terrapins (5-2, 2-2) on deck. The second of their road games thus far, the Illini have struggled mightily in those games.

Maryland comes off a blowout loss, its first of the year, to the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes. Illinois enters off a sluggish performance at home, a loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers a week earlier. Illinois was able to rebound from its loss with a 27-24 win on the road. Head coach Bret Bielema gave high praise to his players for their resilience throughout a tough stretch.

“I’m super excited for our guys,” Bielema said. “They have been through a lot, but they have stuck together.”

For the first time all season, the Illini defense started the game on the field as sophomore quarterback Luke Altmyer and the offense waited their turn. The defense stood strong, forcing a punt on the first drive and giving the offense an early chance to go ahead.

Altmyer delivered a beauty to junior wide receiver Pat Bryant for the gameʼs first points, giving the Illini a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Terrapinsʼ ensuing drive resulted in nothing as the Illini offense retook possession near their own endzone.

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    However, Altmyer was pressured to throw on a third down at midfield, and the result was a Maryland interception, the ninth of the season thrown by the Illinois quarterback. Redshirt senior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa responded well, driving the Terrapins offense down the field and into the endzone to tie the game 7-7.

    After a couple of scoreless drives, junior receiver Isaiah Williams returned a punt all the way to the Maryland 27-yard line. However, nothing came from it as the Illini did not move an inch on the drive and senior kicker Caleb Griffin missed a field goal to keep the score tied. Maryland scored on the ensuing drive, taking a 14-7 lead.

    Both touchdowns by the Terrapins came off Illini mistakes, the first being the interception and the second off the missed field goal. In need of a score, the Illini offense faltered as Altmyer was sacked twice on the following drive, bringing the total on the day up to four. The Illini offense got back on the field after a fumble by the Terrapins.

    Maryland committed a pair of critical penalties to get Illinois in prime field position to get some points on the board before halftime. The penalties allowed freshman Kaden Feagin to power through the trenches to get into the endzone, tying the game at 14-14 as the teams headed into the locker rooms.

    The Terrapins tried to catch the Illini off-guard with an onside kick to start the second half to no avail, with the visitors getting the ball back at midfield. Williams was the scorer as he found the endzone for the first time this season to give Illinois a 21-14 lead.

    Looking to respond, the Terrapins missed a 45-yard field goal, giving the Illini offense another chance to pad their lead. Altmyer had a huge scramble on third down to get his team deep into Maryland territory, but Illinois settled for a field goal to take a 24-14 lead.

    Late in the third quarter, the Terrapins offense responded with a lengthy drive to get within three points heading into the fourth quarter. The ensuing drive by Illinois looked promising after a big kickoff return, but the fifth sack by Maryland’s defense resulted in another punt.

    The majority of the fourth quarter was defined by the defenses of both Illinois and Maryland, as stops were consistent by both teams. The Terrapins drove down the field and were able to kick the game-tying field goal with just 91 seconds left in the game. 

    In another late-game situation, Altmyer went to a familiar face. Senior wide receiver Casey Washington was the go-to guy as he rose above a defender to make an incredible 29-yard catch, getting the Illini near field goal territory. Griffin stepped up for a 43-yard field goal as the Illini walked it off for a 27-24 win.

    Next up: the Homecoming game against the Wisconsin Badgers.



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    About the Contributors
    Adam Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
    Hello! I’m Adam and I’m a senior majoring in journalism. I’m one of the assistant sports editors, and this is my second year with The DI. I love to talk about sports, so if you have any questions or desire to talk about a random athlete from 10 years ago or why Messi > Ronaldo, contact me at my email below!
    James Hoeck, Photo Editor
    Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.