IU earns first Big Ten win with Wilson against Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — By taking down the Fighting Illini 31-17 Saturday at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium, the IU football team ended a five-game losing streak that had plagued the Hoosiers.
IU’s (3-5, 1-3) victory against Illinois (2-6, 0-4) marks the team’s first Big Ten win of the season.
It was IU’s first conference road victory since defeating Purdue in the 2010 Old Oaken Bucket game.
“It was great to see them come back and get one on the road,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “The guys played really hard.”
Wilson earned his first career Big Ten win as head coach.
But the Hoosiers didn’t start off as quickly as Wilson might have hoped.
IU received the kickoff and went three-and-out on its first drive.
On the next possession, the Fighting Illini scored on a two-yard passing touchdown to senior tight end Eddie Viliunas from junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
The Hoosiers responded and tied up the game off a two-yard run from junior running back Stephen Houston.
This was Houston’s first of three touchdowns in the game.
On the Hoosiers’ next drive, sophomore quarterback Cameron Coffman threw an interception to junior safety Steve Hull on third-and-12.
On IU’s next possession, with two minutes left in the first quarter, Wilson decided to make a quarterback change and bring in freshman Nate Sudfeld.
“They’re both about the same, but you just don’t want a guy making a mistake he’s done before,” Wilson said.
On Sudfeld’s second possession at the helm, the team marched down the field from its own 27-yard line and eventually scored on a Sudfeld pass to Houston from 10 yards out.
Sophomore wide receiver Cody Latimer’s 48-yard catch aided the drive and brought the team to Illinois’ 6-yard line.
The next drive, the Hoosiers went three-and-out and had to punt.
On the ensuing punt, Illinois senior Tommy Davis fumbled the return, and junior defensive back Greg Heban recovered the ball at Illinois’ 22-yard line.
The Hoosiers took advantage of the field position and scored off a rushing touchdown from Houston.
This was Houston’s ninth consecutive game with at least one touchdown, the longest such streak in the nation.
The touchdown gave IU its first lead, and the team didn’t give it up the rest of the game.
The Hoosier defense allowed only one field goal in the second half, while the offense produced 10 points.
“We came out in the second half ready to go, knowing that this game was ours to take,” Heban said.
Sudfeld ended the game completing 10 of his 15 passes for 107 passing yards and two touchdowns.
“He didn’t make any bad mistakes, and he would get away from the pressure and make great plays,” Latimer said about Sudfeld’s performance.
Pocket protection from the offensive line helped Sudfeld’s play on the road, he said.
“They take coaching really well and take pride in protecting us quarterbacks and opening holes,” Sudfeld said.
Wilson said his team can use this win to work toward the rest of the season.
“They handled themselves like a winning team, and while our record doesn’t speak that yet, we’re working hard and trying to move it in the right direction,” Wilson said.
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