Welcome to the TCR GameThread! The Fighting Illini are hosting North Carolina tonight at Memorial Stadium, and Steve Bourbon (@steve_bourbon) will be covering the action for us. Make sure to refresh this page throughout the game for updates and analysis on the Orange and Blue.
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We'll have a recap up shortly after the game concludes; all post-game discussion should take place there. Go Illini!
Energy around Memorial Stadium is at all-time high as the Illini get set to take on the Tar Heels of North Carolina under the lights. The crowd is expected to be well over 50,000 in attendance for an Orange Out, and the Illini will follow suit on the field with orange helmets, jerseys and pants. Last season, the Tar Heels clobbered the Illini 48-14 in Chapel Hill, although North Carolina is coming off a Week One loss to No. 9 Georgia. Obviously, North Carolina isn't as bad as they looked to start the season, and Illinois certainly isn't as dominant as it looked in a 52-3 drubbing of Murray State to start the year. Let's get going.
UPDATE: The student section is sold out!
#Illini Ticket Info: Student Tix now SOLD OUT for tonight vs UNC. Extremely limited public tix remain on sale at Kirby Ave ticket booths.— Jason Heggemeyer (@B1GTicket) September 10, 2016
15:00 1st Quarter: North Carolina has won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.
13:35 1st Quarter: HE IS GONE! Ke'Shawn Vaughn takes his first carry of the game off the right side for a 65-yard touchdown! A dream start for the Illini.
Illinois 7, North Carolina 0
12:30 1st Quarter: 3-and-out for the Tar Heels. Carroll Phillips set them behind the sticks with an early sack. Momentary scare for Illinois as Darius Mosely muffed the punt, but it skittered out of bounds. Illinois will take over at their own 35-yard-line.
10:08 1st Quarter: Illinois returns the favor with a 3-and-out, after two incompletions from Lunt. Facing a 3rd-and-4 Carolina was forced into a false start penalty because of crowd noise. When was the last time that happened?!? Carolina picks up the conversion with a long completion over the middle, however, followed by a long run from quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Tar Heels 1st-and-goal.
8:52 1st Quarter: Trubisky caps off the drive with a quarterback sneak on the goalline. Tie ballgame.
Illinois 7, North Carolina 7
6:43 1st Quarter: Illini pick up a quick first down on a wide receiver screen to Corbin, but the drive stalls after getting stuffed on 3rd down. Illinois is forced to punt, but the Tar Heels muff the punt and Illini recover at the UNC 30-yard-line!
2:55 1st Quarter: On 3rd-and-6, the Tar Heels bring the blitz on Lunt and he finds Foster out of the backfield uncovered for a 15-yard touchdown! Foster continues to produce a big play spark through the first five quarters of the season.
Illinois 14, North Carolina 7
Lunt 7 of 9 for 58 yards, 1 TD so far. Vaughn w/5 carries for 80 yards, 1 TD— Matt Daniels (@mdaniels_NG) September 11, 2016
1:30 1st Quarter: After a huge kick return sets up the Tar Heels at the Illinois 30, the defense holds North Carolina to a 48-yard field goal. It's good.
Illinois 14, North Carolina 10
0:52 1st Quarter: Sloppy drive by the offense. Delay of game penalty coming off the kickoff sets the offense back, then Lunt just drops the ball when looking downfield. Tar Heels recover at the Illini 18 yard line.
0:30 1st Quarter: North Carolina wastes no time capitalizing on the turnover as Trubisky records his second rushing touchdown of the day. For the first time under Lovie Smith, Illinois trails.
North Carolina 17, Illinois 14
14:07 2nd Quarter: Two more penalties kill this drive for Illinois. Everyone looks nervous on the Illinois offense - the unit needs to just go out and play. UNC will take over at their own 29 yard line.
9:12 2nd Quarter: North Carolina is turning up the tempo and getting traction against the Illini defense. Even on a 3rd and 15, Trubisky completes a screen pass for a 24-yard touchdown pass. A few missed tackles helped Carolina running back TJ Logan get into the end zone.
North Carolina 24, Illinois 14
5:40 2nd Quarter: Illinois was able to pick up one first down but the drive stalls after Lunt can't complete a screen pass on 3rd and 1. A positive, however, was Illinois' punt coverage, which downed Carolina back at its own 2 yard line.
5:23 2nd Quarter: SAFETY! Smoot is able to penetrate the backfield for a tackle for loss. Energy suddenly right back in Memorial Stadium.
North Carolina 24, Illinois 16
4:23 2nd Quarter: Illinois can't capitalize on the safety, as the offense goes 3 and out. Despite his numbers (8 of 13 for 69 yards and a touchdown) Lunt has been incredibly shaky under center for Illinois. Nearly threw a pick to end the drive.
Key stat: #Illini 7 penalties for 40 yards— Doug Bucshon (@IllinoisRivals) September 11, 2016
0:52 2nd Quarter: A mismanaged clock leads to a punt for the Illini and UNC is quickly into Illinois territory after yet another penalty.
HALFTIME: North Carolina 24, Illinois 16
Huuuuuuuge play right before halftime. With two seconds left, Carolina opts to go for it from the 2-yard line instead of the easy field goal and Trubisky's pass is broken up. Illini go into the break trailing by just eight.
11:30 3rd Quarter: The Illini defense is able to bend but not break because North Carolina misses a 42-yard field goal. Even though all of the momentum favors North Carolina, Illinois trails by just a single score and will have the ball.
8:25 3rd Quarter: Mitch Trubisky just carved up this Illinois secondary. Four plays, three completions for 57 yards and a touchdown. Starting to feel like this one is getting away from the Illini.
North Carolina 31, Illinois 16
2:43 3rd Quarter: A rare downfield completion to a wide receiver is negated from an illegal formation penalty. Now 11 infractions for 78 yards.
This is the most painful drive of the day.— Matt Silich (@msilich2) September 11, 2016
End of the 3rd Quarter: North Carolina 31, Illinois 16
14:55 4th Quarter: Touchdown! Lunt to Turner for a huge touchdown to bring the Illini within striking distance once again. Nice double move by Turner to beat man coverage.
North Carolina 31, Illinois 23
Wes Lunt has 94 yards passing.— Steve Bourbon (@steve_bourbon) September 11, 2016
Illinois has 93 penalty yards.
12:22 4th Quarter: Quick response from the Tar Heels with a touchdown. Starting to feel like this game out of reach.
North Carolina 38, Illinois 23
11:13 4th Quarter: Hilarious play where Lunt fumbles and Joe Spencer recovers and rushes for a first down. Potentially crushing news, however, as Gabe Megginson gets rolled up and he needs to be helped off the field. Did not look good.
7:29 4th Quarter: Another uninspiring drive stalls after Vaughn is called for an illegal motion on 4th down. Lunt missed multiple easy throws, and when he made good throws, his receivers weren't able to haul it in. Tar Heels in full control withe the ball.
4:12 4th Quarter: After a long UNC touchdown run, Illinois is unable to move the ball and punts. All that's left is chewing the clock and playing the backups.