FINAL: Purdue 20, Illinois 17
CHAMPAIGN — Akeem Hunt turned a short pass into a 63-yard touchdown, and Purdue took another step toward a second consecutive bowl berth with a 20-17 victory at Illinois on Saturday.
Hunt’s big play gave the Boilermakers (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) a 13-3 lead in the third quarter. After Illinois pulled within 13-10 on a 16-yard touchdown run by Dami Ayoola, Ralph Bolden’s 63-yard run set up Akeem Shavers’ 6-yard TD scamper for a 20-10 Purdue lead.
With their first back-to-back Big Ten road wins since 2009, the Boilermakers stayed alive in its chase for postseason play. If Purdue can beat
Indiana at home next Saturday to earn bowl eligibility, it will be its first three-game winning streak in one season since 2007.
Illinois (2-9, 0-7) remained the only team in the Big Ten without a conference win. The Illini have a 13-game conference losing streak.
More coming on HQ
Purdue 20, Illinois 10 — End of third quarter
Third-quarter star: Dani Ayoola, Illinois. The freshman running back ran the football and he was not tackled until he reached the orange part of the turf. That’s called a touchdown for those of you who forgot. Rumor has it, that's allowed. First offensive score for the Illini since the third quarter of the Ohio State game.
Third-quarter goat: Rob Bolden, Purdue. Not his fault, but the Boilermakers’ running back was slowed on a long run thanks to a possible hamstring injury, or maybe it was a knee. No worries, his buddy Akeem Shavers punched it in a few plays later.
What we’re thinking: Just when you think the Illini are showing signs of life, they pull within three, then give up a 63-yard run followed by a TD to extend the Purdue lead back to 10. All of a sudden, we have a shootout on our hands.
By the numbers:
7 — That’s how many quarters the Illini went without a TD before Ayoola found paydirt. Or is it payrubber?
328 — total yards for the Boilermakers. 127 of them came on two plays in the third quarter.
3 — touchdowns in the third quarter. There were none prior.
223 — total yards for the Illini. They got 91 in the quarter
86 — passing yards for Illinois.
137 — rush yards for the Illini. Scheelhaase leads with 46. Young has 38
7 — penalties for Purdue. Boilers have been walked off for 65 yards, Illinois has 3 for 30.
14 — first downs for Purdue. Boilers got eight in the third quarter.
15 — Minutes remaining (hopefully) in this one.
Purdue 6, Illinois 3 — Halftime
Second-quarter star: Taylor Zalewski, Illinois. The redshirt freshman kicker’s 54-yard field goal toward the north end zone was the third-longest field goal in Illinois history. Dan Beaver hit a 57-yarder against Purdue in 1975 and Doug Higgins hit a 55-yarder against Michigan State in 1990.
Second-quarter goat: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois. The quarterback was leading a good drive, and has run the ball well today, but his fumble killed Illini momentum after Purdue took a 6-3 lead.
What we’re thinking: This game can’t end soon enough. When does the basketball team play again? Can D.J. Richardson come bail these guys out?
By the numbers:
3 — Illinois turnovers. All fumbles, two by Ryan Lankford, another by Nathan Scheelhaase.
54 — yards on Taylor Zalewski’s field goal, Illinois’ only points.
30 — seconds remaining on the clock when Illinois decided to go into locker room and not run a play to end the half.
39 — team-high rushing yards for Nathan Scheelhaase on nine carries. Donovonn Young has 35 on seven carries.
132 — total yards for the Illini. 54 of them came in the second quarter.
156 — total yards for the Boilermakers. Purdue picked up 148 in the second quarter.
41 — game-high rushing yards for Purdue’s Akeem Shavers on seven carries.
9 — first downs for Purdue, all in the second quarter.
1 — Big Ten wins between the two programs this season. By default, someone will get one today.
Purdue 0, Illinois 0 — End of first quarter
First-quarter star: Eaton Spence, Illinois. The freshman cornerback has a sack for the Illini, who have held the Purdue offense in check to this point.
First-quarter goat: Ryan Lankford, Illinois. How about this for a stat line, two receptions, minus-2 yards, two lost fumbles. The junior receiver has had a tough go of it since that 100-yard game against Penn State in the Big Ten opener.
What we’re thinking: This one might be more boring than last week’s snoozefest against Minnesota. Can we institute a running clock if neither team scores after a quarter?
By the numbers:
3 — Fumbles for the Illini. They’ve lost two of them. Lankford has both. He has as many lost fumbles today as he has TD catches the last seven weeks.
8 — total yards for Purdue. 6 of those came on one play, a Shavers run.
20 — penalty yards against the Boilermakers. Purdue has been flagged twice.
0 — first downs for the Purdue offense.
6 — Number of seasons Purdue QB Robert Marve has played college football. Mason Monheim and Mike Svetina were in sixth grade when he started at Miami.
2 — penalties against the Illini for 25 yards. Senior Terry Hawthorne got a 15-yard personal-foul penalty.
78 — total yards for the Illini. 49 have come on the ground, 26 by Donovonn Young and 15 for Josh Ferguson.
1 — incomplete passes thrown by Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase is 7 for 8 for 29 yards.
2 — receptions for freshman Justin Hardee. Lankford’s replacement has 15 yards.
See you at halftime.
Purdue at Illinois — Kickoff
The Illinois captains today are Ashante Williams, Terry Hawthorne, Michael Buchanan and Hugh Thornton. The other 15 seniors stood behind them at the toss.
At kickoff, the temperature is 55 degrees with wind out of the east southeast at 10 mph.
Purdue won the toss and deferred. Illinois will receive. Purdue will defend the south goal.
The Illinois seniors and their families were honored on the field prior to the game. No matter how bad the season has been, this is a big moment for these guys. They’ve given a lot over the last four or five years.
They made it off the field just in time for the Marching Illini to do their thing.
Unity is up 49-14 at the half. The Rockets look primed to be playing at Memorial Stadium next week.
I don’t believe any Illinois media made the trip to Hawaii for hoops. They’re all here.
Here’s how they size this one up.
Jeremy Werner from ESPN Radio picks Purdue 21-10
Our Bob Asmussen picked Purdue 21-20
Herb Gould from the Chicago Sun Times picked Purdue 24-10
Mark Tupper from the Decatur Herald and Review picked Purdue 23-13
Shannon Ryan from the Chicago Tribune picked Purdue 21-14
John Supinie, working for the Associated Press today picked Purdue 31-10
I went Purdue 30-10.
I’ll be back at the end of the first quarter.
Purdue at Illinois — 30 minutes before kickoff
Both teams are on the field doing their stretches. Someone has to win today, right?
CBS Chicago has been among those who have been very critical of the Tim Beckman era at Illinois and they’ve got another column up today about the football program today. This one is from Adam Hoge. Former News-Gazette staffer Dave Wischnowsky has also been tough on the Illini. These guys are always thorough on their analysis and in my opinion, usually spot on. Here’s a link to Wischnowsky’s columns.
So, back to basketball. I mentioned in my notes before the game that D.J. Richardson needed to step up. He did, but not after a rough first half. The senior was scoreless. He was challenged at halftime and delivered.
Since we’re all about hoops today, here’s more.
We’re asking folks on our Facebook page where D.J.’s three last night ranks.
Since we last spoke, Unity extended the lead to 42-14 and the Rockets are threatening again. I’d much rather be there today than here. I bet the 50/50 drawing is north of $1,000.
Purdue at Illinois — 60 minutes before kickoff
Back here at Memorial Stadium. One pregame note for you. Senior defensive end Justin Staples, who normally wears No. 54, will wear No. 61 today for his last game at Illinois. Staples’ father, Lenson Staples, played at Missouri in 1983 and ’84 and Lenston wore No. 61 for the Tigers. He passed away in 2010.
Illinois will wear blue helmets, orange tops and white pants today.
OK, back to the important stuff — basketball.
It was an emotional game for the Illini last night. Jerry Hester Sr., the father for former Illini and current radio analyst Jerry Hester, died yesterday prior to the game. The younger Hester broadcast the game and was professional throughout. It wasn’t until after the game that play-by-play man Steve Kelly announced that Jerry did the game with a heavy heart.
Illinois coach John Groce got choked up after the game when speaking with Kelly and Hester after the game. Groce said the Illini dedicated that performance last night to Jerry and his family.
As Hester said after the game, how fitting was it that a Peoria kid (Jerry’s from Peoria) hit the game-winner at the buzzer?
Awesome stuff from Honolulu last night.
One local playoff score of note to pass along, in a Class 3A semifinal, Unity leads Greenville 28-14 — in the first quarter! These two teams teamed up for a 53-52 shootout in the semifinals back in 2009.
We’ll be back.
Purdue at Illinois — 90 minutes before kickoff
Good afternoon, folks. Marcus Jackson joining you from Memorial Stadium for today’s
pillow fight Big Ten game between playing-for-pride Illinois and still-alive-for-bowl-eligibility Purdue.
Since we’re here at the football game, how about that basketball win at Hawaii last night? It’s too early to know how the basketball season will play out, but a win like that can do wonders for this team going forward. It didn’t play well at all for the first 30 minutes or so last night, but found a way to come through when it really mattered. John Groce and his staff have these guys believing they can do anything.
Most everyone in the parking lots was talking about the Illini's late-night win against Hawaii in men's basketball.
Read about - and watch - D.J. Richardson's game-winner here
Sorry for going off on a tangent there, but I figured more people were interested in the hoops team right now than the football team.
It is Senior Day here. Much like last week, the parking lots were relatively bare three hours before kickoff today. The parking attendants tell me, however, that the crowds have been late-arriving the last couple of games. The attendance last week was surprisingly high. That might be chalked up to the excellent weather we’ve enjoyed here in east central Illinois for mid-November. As we speak, it’s 52 degrees at Memorial Stadium.
Since it is a football game day and at least six of you out there care about football, here's our conversation with senior defensive tackle Glenn Foster.
I'll be back shortly with another update. There my or may not be more basketball talk.