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

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois gets back to .500 with win over Indiana

Quarterback+John+Paddock+looks+to+pass+in+the+first+quarter+of+the+Illini+football+game+against+the+Hoosiers.+The+game+ended+up+going+into+overtime+after+a+42-42+tie+game+at+the+end+of+regulation.%0A
Sofi Klein
Quarterback John Paddock looks to pass in the first quarter of the Illini football game against the Hoosiers. The game ended up going into overtime after a 42-42 tie game at the end of regulation.

Illinois (5-5, 3-4) returned to Memorial Stadium with revenge on its mind against the Indiana Hoosiers (3-7, 1-6) on Saturday.  The last time the two teams faced each other was in week two last year when the Hoosiers pulled off a tight win in Bloomington.

Both teams entered the game with plenty of questions, but the Illini are in a much better position than earlier in the season. With just a few games remaining, Illinois’ Bowl game hopes are still alive, albeit with the need to gain two wins in this final stretch. The Illini came out on top 48-45 in an overtime thriller.

Senior quarterback John Paddock started in the absence of sophomore Luke Altmyer, who was ruled out with an undisclosed injury according to the Nov. 11 Big Ten football availability report.

The Illini started with the ball, but the first drive resulted in a loss of two, a pair of incompletions and a punt in just 57 seconds.

The Hoosiers’ first drive was even shorter as the Illini got the ball back after a total of 48 seconds.

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On the ensuing Illinois drive, Paddock made a pair of tight-window throws for a pair of big gains — a 33-yard catch and run for junior wide receiver Pat Bryant, followed by a 23-yard catch by freshman running back Kaden Feagin. Despite this impressive showing, the Illini settled for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead, as senior kicker Caleb Griffin drilled it from 24 yards out.

The Illini defense forced another quick three-and-out, ultimately fumbling the ensuing punt. The Hoosiers took advantage, finding their way into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown and taking a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter.

Illinois got down the field in just 35 seconds with a 67-yard catch and run by junior wide receiver Isaiah Williams. Junior running back Reggie Love charged the end zone immediately afterward and in spite of a missed kick by Griffin, the Illini gained a 9-7 lead.

The Illini began the second quarter with a two-point lead on the Hoosiers and a newfound hope for the remainder of the game. Despite an underwhelming offensive performance by Indiana thus far, the visitors scored a touchdown, gaining a five-point lead over Illinois.

The Illini offense got a field goal on the board, narrowing Indiana’s lead to 14-12. Matters worsened for Illinois immediately after, with Indiana scoring a touchdown on a 69-yard drive.

On a play filled with miscues, the Hoosiers intercepted Paddock. Indiana’s offense scored again after taking over at midfield to take a 27-12 lead with 5:44 to go in the first half, stunning a packed Memorial Stadium.

Following a stint of big plays from Bryant, senior wide receiver Casey Washington finished the drive off with his first career touchdown, once again narrowing the Hoosiers’ lead.

According to Head Coach Bret Bielema, Washington is an “unwritten MVP.”

“All year offensively, he’s just made big play after big play,” Bielema explained.

The Illini defense registered two sacks late in the half, allowing the offense to get back on the field late. A pair of impressive catches by Washington led the Illini offense into the red zone.

These big plays from Washington set up a Bryant touchdown, closing the gap to 27-26 in favor of the Hoosiers facing halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, the Illini defense looked to start strong. Delivering on this objective, junior defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton recovered a fumble near midfield, giving the offense the space to take the lead. Illinois’ offense couldn’t get within field goal range, however, resulting in a punt.

Another punt, this time by Indiana, marked the halfway point of the third quarter, as both defenses looked sharp after the halftime rest.

The Illini have notably struggled with discipline throughout this season, and it was no different in Saturday’s matchup with the Hoosiers. Through the first 40 minutes of game time, Illinois racked up 84 penalty yards on just seven flags.

With just over five minutes remaining in the quarter, junior wide receiver Isaiah Williams caught his eighth pass of the day, resulting in a 33-27 lead for the Illini.

Productive plays from Indiana pushed Illinois back, but an unlikely hero rose to the occasion. Freshman safety Mac Resetich intercepted a pass from Indiana, giving the Illini offense an opportunity to reinforce their position in the game.

The ensuing offensive possession showcased more crisp passes from the veteran Paddock and it was capped off by a 37-yard touchdown run from Love. The Illini took a steep 12-point lead and put the Hoosiers in a difficult position.

Illinois continued to rack up penalties, with the harshest being called on junior defensive back Tahveon Nicholson, as he was given a flagrant for spitting on an Indiana player, leading to his ejection. The penalty contributed to another Indiana touchdown, which narrowed the Illini lead to 39-34.

Illinois drove the length of the field on its next possession which resulted in a short field goal, broadening their lead on Indiana to 42-34 with less than five minutes to go.

Indiana urgently pushed down the field but arrived at fourth down. An incomplete pass gave the Illini the ball back with a chance to ice the game.

The Hoosiers’ defense stood strong, and their offense had a chance to tie the game, needing to go 85 yards in 97 seconds. Indiana succeeded, tying the game at 42 with 28 seconds left.

According to Love, the key to cinching this win was keeping the pace up in the face of strong fourth-quarter play by Indiana.

“We’ve seen that Indiana made great plays in the fourth quarter,“ Love said. “You just have to go out there and continue to push the pace, keep our foot on the pedal.”

In overtime, the Hoosiers scored first, albeit just a field goal, allowing the Illini the chance to win with a touchdown.

Williams clutched up, making the game-winning catch in overtime.

“Coming in, we knew we were gonna have a test on our hands, and our guys kept … battling back,” Bielema said following the game. “I give a lot of credit to the guys that made plays in the end that needed to happen.”

 

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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!
Lisa Chasanov, Managing Editor for Reporting
Howdy! My name is Lisa, my game is delivering quality news to your phone screen, coffee table and recycling bin. Since fall 2022, I have had the honor of writing, editing and often-unsuccessfully pitching content for The Daily Illini. During my time at the 152-year-old news source, I have served as a reporter at our news desk, summer editor and assistant news editor. Most recently, after a rewarding year of bringing you hard-hitting stories such as “Uncut: Dissecting Circumcision” and “‘Surf’s Up’ could be the film of the summer,” I have taken over as managing editor for reporting. In my free time, you can find me performing open heart surgery in dark alleys, communicating telepathically with small woodland creatures and engaging in otherwise dubious activities. If you would like to summon me for any reason, you can find me at [email protected]. Good Yard. Stay tuned for more.
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