Cleat Geeks

Live From The Game: Purdue@Illinois Day After Reaction

It was a perfect Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Temperature hovering around 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and football was going to be played. The Lovie Smith era is off to a rough start at Illinois (1-4), and Purdue (3-2) is looking to move up the the BIG Ten for the first time in years.img_5145

Purdue won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball, and on their opening drive they moved the ball well, until QB David Blough missed on a third down pass and the Boilermakers were forced to punt. Illinois pounded the ground game all day, and used it early to bust a few big plays to move into Purdue’s Red Zone. But, once they had the ball inside the five, Lovie Smith came into the full effect. Illinois ran three straight running plays, almost the exact same, and were forced to kick a Field Goal to take a 3-0 lead. For a majority of the first quarter it was a field position game, until Purdue was able to take advantage of a short field and scored on a David Blough scamper from Nine yards out to put Purdue up 7-3.

Illinois came out and opened the scoring again the second with another Field Goal from McLaughlin to bring the Illini within one. After the slow start, each offense found their footing as they traded TD’S on their next respective drives, bringing the score to 14-13. But, on a 1st & 15 for the Illini on their scoring drive, QB Wes Lunt was drilled on his pass attempt and remained down on the field for some time. He was able to walk off under his own power, but would not return to the game. Backup QB Chayce Crouch would come into the game, and lead the Illini the rest of the way. Purdue came right back after Crouch enterd the game and lead a touchdown drive for the Illini, as on their next possession the Boilermakers marched down the field on only six plays. Bloguh found Malik Kimbrough for a 46 YD Touchdown. Down 21-13, Illinois needed the score going into the half, and they would connect on another McLaughlin FG to bring the first half scoring to a close. Heading into Halftime, Purdue held a 21-16 lead.

img_5146Illinois got the ball to start the third quarter, and it looked like both defenses made the right adjustments the first few drives as neither team could get much going. On Illinois third possession they found the endzone on a Chrouch rush from 3 YD’S out to take their first lead since 3-0 early in the game. Purdue came right back to take the lead, going 41 YD’S, leading to a Dellinger FG to take a 24-23 lead heading in the 4th.

It was a wild 4th Quarter, filled with penalties, disqualifications, and a lot of tempers flaring. The teams were dead even, then two costly penalties for Purdue as they got a roughing the passer, and then a unsportsmanlike-conduct when Crouch’s helmet was kicked off his head as he was on the ground. This set up a short field where the Illini capitalized. Kendrick Foster punched it in from 3 YD’S out, and a 2 PT conversion gave the Illini a 31-24 lead. The Boilermakers responded on the very next drive with a Touchdown of their own. Richie Worship rushed from 8 YD’S out, and the Extra Point tied the game a 31.

In a wild last few minutes both teams had a chance to drive and win the game. Both teams punted the ball away, and Purdue got the ball back with 1:21 left and all of their timeouts. A roughing the passer gave the Boilermakers 15 free yards, and it looked to be over for the Illini. An Illini player was disqualified for the hit, and all the momentum was with Purdue. With 37 seconds left though, Illinois picked off Blough. Illinois used the field well, and got into Field Goal range with a chance to win the game. Lovie Smith called timeout with three seconds left brought on his kicker. Darrel Hazel then used all three of his timeouts trying to ice the kicker. It worked. McLaughlin missed his first attempt of the season. A 41 YD, game winning attempt went off the upright. Overtime was next.

Illinois got the ball to start overtime, and Crouch busted a nice run to start the drive moving it near the 10. But, his next run would prove costly as he fumbled the ball and Purdue recovered. All the Boilermakers had to do was not turn the ball over, score, and they win the game. And that’s exactly what they did. Purdue played it conservative as they rushed the ball into a short Field Goal situation, lined up the kicker in the middle of the field, and Dellinger split the uprights on a 28 YD attempt to win the game in Overtime.

img_5159The Lovie Smith era will take some time to work itself out, but this game showed that Illinois can be competitive again. Once Lovie has time to coach his young players, and recruit players to his system the turnaround for the program can begin. Until then, Illinois fans may see more of what they did in the Tim Beckman era, but know there is light at the end of the tunnel.


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