Hoosiers Edge Illinois
Bloomington, Ind. - Indiana senior quarterback Matt LoVecchio's eight-yard rush for a touchdown with 24 seconds remaining lifted the Hoosiers to a 17-14 victory over Illinois on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The win marked the Hoosiers' first of the season in Big Ten Conference play and improved the team to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in league action.
Trailing, 14-10, the Hoosiers' final scoring drive spanned 2:28, covering 66 yards in 12 plays for the win.
The game got off to the kind of start Indiana has been looking for all year, as the Hoosiers churned out a 12-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in a BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdown on the game's opening drive.
Green-Ellis' first-quarter touchdown ended a string of six consecutive scoreless first quarters for Indiana, dating back to the Indiana State game on September 13 and gave Indiana its first lead since the fourth quarter of the Northwestern game (just under 122 minutes of regulation time had passed since then.)
Indiana kept Illinois scoreless through the first quarter, marking the first time in the Gerry DiNardo era that the Hoosiers held an opponent scoreless in the opening stanza.
The Illini got on the board with eight seconds left in the second quarter, when quarterback Dustin Ward hooked up with receiver Eric McGoey in the corner of the end zone. McGoey was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the score, setting up a 35-yard point-after attempt, which kicker John Gockman converted to send the teams into the locker room deadlocked at seven.
Illinois added another touchdown in the third quarter when Ward connected with Ade Adeyemo on a deep post pattern for a 34-yard strike.
A key moment came early in the fourth quarter, when a punt return touchdown by Illinois' Christian Morton was called back by a hold, then backed up even further by an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Morton for high-stepping. Not only was the score erased, but the Illini wound up starting the drive at their own 23-yard line and went three-and-out.
The Hoosiers piled up 113 rushing yards in the first half, a figure that is greater than Indiana's rushing yards from the last two games combined (99 yards: 111 vs. Minnesota and minus-12 vs. Ohio State).
Cedric Henry forced a fumble in the second quarter. It was his second forced fumble of the year. Kyle Killion recovered it for his third fumble recovery of the year.
On the year, Indiana has forced 17 turnovers while committing only 14 (plus-3turnover margin). Last year, Indiana had a minus-12 turnover margin (29 turnovers committed, 17 turnovers forced).
The Hoosiers look to make it two in a row next week when they travel to State College, Pa., to battle Joe Paterno and Penn State. Kickoff is set for 12:10 p.m. (Eastern), with the game televised by ESPN-Plus.
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