The first road trip of the Bielema Era did not go as planned.
It was ugly for the Illini at Scott Stadium on Saturday morning. Illinois (1-2, 1-0) couldn’t stop a nosebleed against Virginia (2-0), who throttled the Illini, 42-14.
Virginia got off to a hot start, marching right down the field in four plays, going 75 yards and taking a 7-0 lead just over a minute in. The Illini countered with a quick four play drive of their own, but the difference is they only tallied 8 yards and punted it right back to the Hoos. Virginia went 80 yards in four plays to make it 14-0 less than five minutes in.
Illinois’ started to find a bit of momentum in the second quarter. After piecing together a 72-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard strike from Artur Sitkowski to Deuce Spann and two missed field goals from Virginia, the Illini got the ball back with a chance to tie heading into the half, but couldn’t take advantage.
Defensively the Illini struggled getting off the field, hardly generating a pass rush without the team’s sack leader Keith Randolph who was out with injury. UVA was manufacturing big plays all game long, out-gaining the Illini by almost 300 yards, only punting twice in the entire game. The Illini generated two fourth quarter takeaways, but it was too little too late.
The Illini opened up the second half with one of their best drives of the season. Jakari Norwood tallied 25 yards on two carries to put the Illini in plus territory and Chase Brown capped off the four play, 75-yard drive with his first touchdown of the season, a 21-yard scamper.
Brennen Armstrong and the Cavaliers continued to carve up the Illini defense. The junior QB threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns, plus he led his team in rushing yards for a majority of the game with 31 and even caught a pass for a first down.
- Kerby Joseph: 7 tackles (4 solo), 1 interception, 1 PBU
- Devon Witherspoon: 7 tackles (7 solo), 1 TFL, 1 PBU
- Brennan Armstrong (UVA): 27-36, 405 yards, 5 TDs
- Jelani Woods (UVA): 5 receptions, 122 yards, 1 TD
- Noah Taylor (UVA): 7 tackles (4 solo), 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 PBU
With 141 yards and two touchdowns in five minutes, #UVA's Brennan Armstrong on pace to throw for 1,692 yards and 24 TDs against Illinois today.— David Teel (@ByDavidTeel) September 11, 2021
- Jake Hansen forced and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter, this was Hansen’s 11th career forced fumble, tying him with Whitney Mercilus for second on the all-time forced fumbles list.
- Sitkowski had a streak of seven straight starts without an interception snapped on Saturday. The sophomore QB from Rutgers threw for 178 yards, a touchdown and an interception late in the fourth quarter.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Another week, another explosive Deuce Spann play at receiver.
#Illini Deuce Spann Touchdown. 6-4, 195lb redshirt freshman out of St Petersburg, Florida with speed for a Illinois Touchdown catch. pic.twitter.com/65kr2gXVYe— Illini Football Focus (@IlliniFB) September 11, 2021
TWEET OF THE GAME
Embarrassing— Bob Zuppke (@BobZuppke) September 5, 2021
The Illini play host to the Maryland Terrapins on Friday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. CT. It marks their second conference matchup of the season after topping Nebraska in Week 0.