Illini Familiarly Falls Against Purdue
It sounded familiar.
Illinois clung to a 4th quarter lead again and found a way to waste it again. Purdue (3-1, 1-0 BIG) captured the Cannon and beat the Illini 13-9 (1-4, 1-2 BIG) in a lousy game at West Lafayette at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The first half featured as many punters as it had points (nine) and that only begins to say how tough the battle for the Cannon was on Saturday.
After a slow start, the Illini managed to score at the end of the first half, led by a heavy run from running back Josh McCray. Then, aided by a pass interference call on a deep throw attempt and a good balance between run and pass, the Illini opened the second half with a 13 game to tie things up at 6-6. It still wasn’t pretty, but the Illini moved the ball much better after half-time.
Purdue’s offense had struggled throughout the game, so at the end of the third quarter after the Illini missed a 54-yard goal, head coach Jeff Brohm decided to pass the quarterback through. from Jack Plummer to Aiden O’Connell (something Purdue does often). Two plays later, O’Connell connected with Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen for 43 yards, setting Purdue up to potentially take the lead and score the game’s first touchdown.
In third and on goal, Illini junior DB Kerby Joseph intercepted a pass from O’Connell in the end zone with 1:30 left in the third quarter – reversing all swing. McCray made his way across the field, rushing more than 50 yards onto the disc. The Illini finished the run with James McCourt’s third field goal of the game, a 45-yard game that gave Illinois their first lead of the game.
In the possession that followed, Tony Adams knocked out O’Connell. The senior QB was trying to bring the ball to Kyle Bilodeau on a crossover course and Adams was waiting to deliver a big hit. Instead, the blow rocked the ball and Adams hung on for his sixth career interception.
Head coach Bret Bielema faced a similar situation which he controversially decided to end last week. This time around, the Illini were leading 9-6 on the 34-yard line with 9:33 to go and once again decided to kick the ball.
And just like last week, Purdue walked the field with 10 plays and 96 yards to take a 13-9 lead. O’Connell hit TJ Sheffield down a slope and the sophomore spread took 14 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
But unlike last week’s loss to Maryland, the Illini have managed to put together a practice. But after a 13-game practice, the Illini failed to convert to 4th place in the red zone, and the end result is just another count in column L.
McCray was a beacon of hope for the Illini, however, carrying the ball 24 times and scooping 156 rushing yards for Illinois. It was the rookie’s first career start and his first career 100-yard game, and it will certainly be a building block for Illini’s offense going forward.
- Josh McCray (Illinois): 24 carries, 156 yards – this is McCray’s first career 100-yard game.
- Sydney Brown (Illinois): 7 tackles, one interrupted pass
- Blake Hayes (Illinois): 6 punts, 4 inside 20s, 80 yards
- George Karlaftis (Purdue): 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
- Aidan O’Connell (Purdue): 12 of 19,182 yards, 1 TD, 2 ints
- Milton Wright (Purdue): 7 catches, 88 yards
- The Illini are scoreless in the first quarter this season.
- This game breaks the all-time bond between these two schools, Purdue now leads the all-time series 46-45-6.
- James McCourt extended his school record of over 50 yards with 51 yards in the second quarter.
YOU MUST SEE THIS
- Kerby Joseph with a massive choice.
IN CASE YOU MISS IT
Former NFL punter Pat McAfee continues to be impressed with Blake Hayes.
Illinois ends its non-conference list next weekend against Charlotte. The Illini will host the 49ers, with kick-off scheduled for Saturday at 12:00 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.