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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

IU defeats Illinois 27-14

IU-Illinois Football

After two weeks of dismal losses to Ohio State and Virginia, the Hoosiers responded with a hard-fought 27-14 win on Saturday night against Illinois.

IU junior quarterback Ben Chappell had his most complete game of 2009 with 333 passing yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers.

On the ground, junior wide receiver Mitchell Evans added 88 yards rushing to lead the Hoosiers.

“It was fun,” Chappell said.  “The offensive line played great, we were able to run the ball and the wide receivers made great catches.  We played a lot better.”

After the first 15 minutes of play, the Hoosiers and Fighting Illini were deadlocked in a defensive battle at 0-0.

Chappell led two strong drives to begin the quarter to set up 38 and 32 field goal attempts by freshman kicker Nick Freeland.  But after both sailed wide of the uprights, the Hoosiers left the field with no points.

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams never got in a rhythm and did not lead his team past the 50-yard line in that period.

The second quarter was another story.

With 11:09 remaining in the period, Chappell began with a 22-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Tandon Doss.  Two plays later, Chappell found sophomore wide receiver Damarlo Belcher for 14 yards and junior wide receiver Mitchell Evans followed with a rush of 27 yards to the Illinois 23 yard-line.

But unable to attain the first down, Freeland kicked a 35-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead.

On the Fighting Illini’s second drive of the quarter, Williams threw a 22-yard strike to wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.  Running back Mikel Leshoure followed with three carries for 29 yards to the IU 29-yard line.

After a one-yard loss, Williams hit Jenkins again from 30-yards out for a touchdown and the four-point advantage.

On the Hoosiers’ next drive, Chappell had five completions for 51 yards to bring the ball to the Illinois 29-yard line.  Just under a minute remaining, he then hit Belcher on the far right side for a 29-yard touchdown score.

The half ended with the score 13-7 in favor of the Hoosiers.

And while the second-quarter ended with a flurry of offensive production, the third quarter was anything but that.

Both Illinois and Indiana had three drives each but failed to score, leaving IU with the six-point lead.

Chappell added to the Hoosiers’ total with two more touchdowns to start the fourth quarter.

The first came after freshman running back Darius Willis compiled 12 yards on the ground to the Illinois 44-yard line.  On the next play, Chappell proceeded to throw a dart into the end zone to Doss for the 20-7 lead.

After a fumble recovery by freshman defensive tackle Larry Black, Willis ran for five yards to the Illinois 13-yard line.  Chappell then found senior tight end Troy Wagner from 13-yards out in the end zone to put the game out of reach for the Fighting Illini.

Illinois answered with a six-minute drive, culminating in a three-yard touchdown pass from Williams to wide receiver Jeff Cumberland to make the score 27-14.

But with little time remaining, no team added to their totals and IU earned its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Doss said the difference against Illinois from the past two weeks was overall team attitude.

“We came back this week and Coach emphasized on bringing the intensity back,” Doss said.  “That’s what we did.” 

IU coach Bill Lynch said this win was monumental for his team’s confidence.

“This was a great win for our football team,” Lynch said.  “I was really proud at how they bounced back from a tough couple of weeks.  We challenged them pretty hard on Monday, and they responded.”

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