Illini Trip Up Hoosiers, 27-14
Sept. 22, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana football team suffered its first defeat of the 2007 season on Saturday, falling to Illinois 27-14. The Fighting Illini improved to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in Big Ten play, while the Hoosiers dropped to 3-1 and 0-1 in conference competition.
Tracy Porter led the IU defense, posting seven tackles and recording a pair of interceptions in the game. It marked Porter's third career multi-interception game, as he moved into sole possession of second place with 13 picks in his four years as a Hoosier. Tim Wilbur holds the school record with 19 interceptions from 1978-82.
Andrew Means had a career day for the Hoosiers on offense, posting career highs in both catches (seven) and yards (83). Kellen Lewis went 26-for-51 for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the game. On the other side of the ball, Rashard Mendenhall led the way for the Illini with 214 yards rushing in the game. The Illinois defense recorded four takeaways and a blocked punt in the contest, and limited the Hoosiers to 134 yards on the ground.
On Illinois' second play from scrimmage, Juice Williams looked deep down the middle and Porter made a brilliant play, leaping and then snatching the ball out of the hands of Arrelious Benn for his 12th career interception. However, a Marcus Thigpen fumble at the U of I 33-yard line ended IU's bid for points on its opening drive.
After getting the ball back, Illinois moved downfield with a nine-play, 39-yard drive that put them inside the IU 25. But a sack by Adam McClurg backed up the visitors, who had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Jason Reda which gave the Illini a 3-0 lead with 10:20 to play in the quarter. Reda tacked on another field goal, a 38-yarder, with 4:28 to play in the frame, making the score 6-0 in favor of the visitors.
The Illini cracked the end zone with 10:25 to play in the half, as a two-yard TD pass from Williams to Michael Hoomanawanui capped off a 12-play, 80-yard drive for U of I. Illinois picked up 64 of its 80 yards on the ground on the drive, stretching its lead to 13-0.
Indiana got on the scoreboard with 2:04 to go before the break, with James Hardy grabbing a seven-yard score from Lewis. The seven-play, 78-yard drive included a pair of catches by Means and a crucial 15-yard rush by Bryan Payton to set up the score. It gave Hardy his sixth TD reception of the season and made the score 13-7. But Illinois struck right back with a drive that spanned 1:20 on eight plays to regain a 13-point lead. Mendenhall capped off the drive with a 15-yard TD reception with 44 seconds to play before halftime. The Illini entered the locker room with a 20-7 lead.
The Illini looked poised to score again following a blocked punt at the end of IU's first possession of the third quarter. But Porter came through for the Hoosiers again, intercepting a pass on third-and-7 and returning it to the 33-yard line to keep the score at 20-7.
The defenses took charge throughout the third quarter, with neither team able to score in the frame. Illinois' defense recorded another takeaway early in the fourth, and the short field resulted in a 27-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard run by Mendenhall to extend the lead to 27-7.
IU got to the Illinois defense midway through the fourth, with James Bailey earning his first score of the season. On third-and-11 from the 30, Lewis found Bailey in the middle of a zone, and the junior broke several tackles and spun into the end zone to make the score 27-14 with 7:58 to go in the game.
The Hoosiers defense was able to hold Illinois on its next two possessions, but the IU offense was unable to convert the stops into points. An interception by Vontae Davis in the end zone with just over a minute to play cemented the victory for U of I.
Indiana is back in action next Saturday, when it travels to Iowa City for a matchup with the Hawkeyes. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network starting at noon EDT.
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