CHAMPAIGN, IL.– Bowl game hopes were on the line for Indiana as they traveled to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini. The Hoosiers responded with a much-needed 24-14 win over Illinois, to improve their record on the season to 4-6 with two games left.
It was a very slow start to the game for both sides, with no scores until six minutes and thirty seconds left before halftime when IU took a 7-0 lead on a Morgan Ellison 2-yard rushing touchdown. Then right before the break, Indiana tacked on 7 more points with a short 4-yard touchdown pass from Richard Lagow for a 14-0 halftime lead.
Illinois responded to the very slow start in the second half on the opening drive. Jeff George Jr. completed a 77-yard bomb down the field to Louis Dorsey for a touchdown, cutting into the Hoosiers lead. IU about 10 minutes later would score a field goal to extend the game to a 17-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Fighting Illini rumbled and crumbled after making it a 3-point game with a passing touchdown only trailing IU 17-14. With just 5:45 left in the game, Richard Lagow threw another touchdown pass which went to Simmie Cobbs Jr. to make it a 24-14 lead. Illinois had back-to-back possessions in crunch time and failed each time with an interception. Indiana’s defense held their own and did not allow a comeback to win 24-14.
Richard Lagow completed 32-of-48 passes for 289 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Lagow was clicking with his receivers and completed a monster number of passes. Saturday marked the second-highest season total in passes, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns for Lagow. He really was in a groove.
Cole Gest was the leading rusher for the Hoosiers, with 17 carries for 82 yards and 4.8 yards per carry average. Morgan Ellison added 13 rushes for 49 yards, and the only rushing touchdown of the day.
Luke Timian led IU receivers with 5 catches for 62 yards and a long of 24. Simmie Cobbs Jr. added 4 receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Ian Thomas caught 2 passes for 11 yards and a TD.
Moving on to the defensive side of things, Indiana University picked off Illinois QB Jeff George Jr. twice late in the fourth quarter. Rashard Fant and Tegray Scales each recorded an interception. Scales also added a key fumble recovery late in the game. The defense put all kinds of pressure on Jeff George Jr. who was sacked 8 times led by Jacob Robinson who recorded two of those.
Indiana will once again have bowl chances on the line next weekend when they are at home to face Rutgers with a to be determined time next Saturday.