hang-on to beat Texas State, 42-35
By Jeff Mayfield
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[September 22, 2014]
Champaign-Urbana-Usually a 3-1 college
football is something to be celebrated. That's especially true of an
Illinois football team. That's mostly because it's hard to know why
the Illini has played so many tough opponents in the non-conference
portion of the schedule the last few years. I've always said let's
play Whatsamatta U and both Lincoln colleges and take our 3 wins
onto the Big Ten season. My cries went unheard. Anyway, after
Illinois' unconvincing 42-35 win over the Texas State Bobcats the
Illini now stand at 3-1. I don't know whether to celebrate them or
to cry in my root beer. If ever there was a mirage of football team,
this one is it.
Once again the only way the Illini could find the
win was by making a 4th quarter comeback. As we saw in Washington,
good teams will never let you do that. And if Illinois is going to
struggle against teams like Western Kentucky and Texas State, how
will they do against Big Ten foes? We'll find out next week at
Nebraska. I know I should be more hopeful, but I'm just not.
Anyway on to the game..
After the opening kickoff resulted in a touchback, the Illini scored
on a nifty 75-yard run by Josh Ferguson. He actually caught a Wes
Lunt swing pass behind the line of scrimmage and rumbled 75 yards
behind outstanding blocking for a touchdown before even 15 seconds
had ticked off the clock.
Two touchdown passes for Texas State made the score 14-6 with 3:38
to go in the first quarter.
After a 2-hour weather delay(1 hour and 56 minutes to be exact if
you keep track of that sort of stuff) Texas State marched the ball
down the field and took a commanding 21-6 lead with two minutes and
change left in the interrupted first half. Illinois took the ball in
their 2-minute offense and marched down the field. Josh Ferguson
took a 2-yard plunge into the end zone to make it 21-13 and half.
Illinois snuffed'em on three and out, and Josh Ferguson took a
screen pass this time and rumbled 65 yards for another illini score.
A weak 2-point try resulted in a Lunt pass sailing out of the back
of the endzone making the score 21-19 early in the third period.
Donovan Young took a 3-yard run into pay dirt & w/the missed 2-point
conversion Illinois took a 25-21 lead w/9:18 left in the stanza.
[to top of second column]
A bad interception of 48 yards on another good Illini drive
set-up Texas State for a touchdown pass from Tyler Jones to Ben
Ijah that put the Bobcats back on top 28-25
Illinois then thought they had tied the game with a field goal,
but the Bobcats were flagged for running into the kicker. That
set the stage for a Wes Lunt to Michael Dudek 7-yard touchdown
strike putting the Illini up 32-28. Walk-on place kicker David
Reisner converted a 19-yard chip shot field goal and extended
the lead to 35-28 with 3:08 left in the game.
It was once again time to pull out the Bentley...V'Angelo
Bentley that is. He had already earlier set up a previous Illini
score with a nifty 40+ yard punt return. This time he picked off
Jones' errant pass and took it to the house for what you would
normally call a commanding 42-28 lead. But as was mentioned
earlier this illini team does nothing the easy way, and it was
still an adventure the rest of the way. Somehow Illinois hung on
for a 42-35 victory, but it was anything but pretty. If I had
seen more defensive stops, I would say the 3-1 record is legit.
If the offense were a fast start offense instead of one groping
for good things in the 4th quarter, I would say the 3-1 record
is legit. If the team weren't beset by injuries and penalties, I
would say the 3-1 record is legit. But because the team
struggles in all those areas I'm not sure that this is really a
3-1 football team. I would love to be wrong, and I hope I start
being wrong next Saturday versus the Cornhuskers. I'm hoping
that this team proves me wrong!
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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