This has been a REALLY fun season of simulations, and next season promises to bring even better ones!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all of you in TCR and Illini Nation...and let's see how this thing ends up!
This game started fast for the Bulldogs, as Kenneth Dixon would put together a touchdown scoring drive including runs of 21 and 17 yards. Establishing a ground game was a major priority for Louisiana Tech, as they would get the ball back after a Justin DuVernois punt, and set up another scoring drive of 48 yards that was capped off by a 34 yd field goal by Jonathan Barnes. Illinois would answer though, as Reilly O'Toole and Josh Ferguson would orchestrate a nice drive running the football to set up David Reisner from 27 yards. At the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs held a 10-3 lead.
O'Toole would start the second quarter strong, firing 2 lengthy passes of 27 and 31 yards to Mike Dudek and Geronimo Allison. This set up an 8 yard draw play that Reilly took to the endzone, tying the ballgame. Dixion would not let that last for long though, as he would scamper for a 38 yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter, opening up the scoring to 17-10 Bulldogs. However, Reilly would hit Dudek on a key third down, and then found Ferguson on a screen pass from 12 yards out to tie the game once more heading into halftime.
Halftime Score: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs ~ 17 Illinois Fighting Illini ~ 17
After receiving the kickoff to start the second half, the Illini controlled the clock well and set up a Reisner field goal after taking 6 minutes off the game clock. It would be the last time the Illini had the ball though, as Cody Sokol and the Bulldog offense would control the 3rd quarter. First, the Dogs opened up a 75 yd scoring drive capped off by a 2 yard QB draw. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball was fumbled and recovered by LA Tech at midfield. Sokol would throw a 6 yard strike to Trent Taylor, and the score at the end of the 3rd quarter was 34-20 in favor of Tech.
Reilly and the offense would get one last shot in the 4th, as he led the Illini to the endzone on their opening drive of the quarter. A 5 yard touchdown rush from Donovonn Young put the Illini within a touchdown with 10 minutes left in the game. LA Tech would add one more field goal from 42 yards out, and the Bulldogs led 37-27 around the 7 minute mark. Two plays later, Mike Dudek was headed for the endzone after Reilly O'Toole hit him from 53 yards away, and just like that the Illini were trailing 37-34 with just over 5 minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs would pick up a BIG 1st down to bring the game under 2 minutes when the Illini would get the ball back.
With all their timeouts remaining, O'Toole hit Martize Barr and Geronimo Allison for key first downs, and moved the ball with his feet to set the Illini up at the 14 yard line with just under a minute to play. After a run play was stuffed by the Tech defense, Dudek would snag a tough pass over the middle of the field to put the ball on the one yard line. Ferguson would punch it in from there, and the defense would kill off the last 24 seconds of the game.