Since we don't know who Illinois will start on Saturday, I left Wes Lunt at starting quarterback. He took one play to find Mike Dudek for a 75 yard touchdown pass, and just like that the Illini led 7-0. Zach Oliver answered with a 75 yard drive ending in a keeper of 7 yards for a touchdown. After a three and out from the Illini, the Wildcats took over at their own 38 yard line. Oliver would bobble the snap and Mason Monheim fell on the loose ball giving the Illini the ball back with GREAT field position. Josh Ferguson would take 2 plays to find the endzone and put the Illini ahead 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. Hat.
Oliver regained his composure in the second quarter, finding Kyle Prater and Dan Vitale each for 10+ yards. Oliver then would rush for 12 yards and get the ball into field goal range for Jack Mitchell. He would bang home a 39 yard attempt, and the Cats would pull within 4. Enter, Geronimo Allison. This time, a 2 play 77 yard drive would be capped off by Allison with catches of 41 and 36 yards. Just like that, the Illini led 21-10. Justin Jackson would change that quickly with a 71 yard screen pass, taking it to the house to bring the Cats back within 4. That wouldn't last long however, as Lunt would drive the ball down the field between Allison, Malik Turner, and Dudek. With under a minute left in the second quarter, Ferguson would punch the ball across the goal line from 6 yards out. Hat.
ILLINI ~ 28 Fitzy and the Cats ~ 17
Northwestern received the ball to start the second half, and started throwing out of the gates. Oliver found Vitale and Tony Jones for big completions, which set up Justin Jackson from 11 yards out to put the Cats in the end zone. With a 28-24 lead, the Illini would rely on Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young to move the ball down the field. That would set up a 41 yard field goal from David Reisner to put the Illini up 31-24. After a Northwestern three and out, Wes would hit Dudek and Turner twice each for big gains. With the ball deep in Wildcat territory, Ferguson would again scamper into the end zone to give the Illini a 38-24 lead after 3 quarters. Hat.
Needing a 4th quarter push, Oliver took it upon himself to keep the Cats alive. He would convert two BIG 3rd downs and eventually hit Vitale in the end zone to pull Northwestern within a touchdown. Lint and the offense would prove to be too strong though, as they would assemble a 10 play scoring drive in just over 5 minutes. Jon Davis caught a 3 yard pass to give the Illini the lead for good. On the next possession, Austin Teitsma would scoop and score after a Jackson fumble. Icing on the cake :)