CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Chase Brown’s twin brother Sydney was one of the first guys to greet him after a historic performance. Move over Red Grange, Jim Grabowski, Howard Griffith and Rashard Mendenhall.
Chase Brown has his place in the Illini record books with his 257 rushing yards against Charlotte, fourth most in a game in program history.
“When I first came to Illinois I knew I wanted to be part of those big names guys that played here before me and the fact that I was able to come out today and put on the performance I did, I’m grateful, I feel really blessed,” says Chase.
“It’s unreal, I’m super proud of the guy but I’m not surprised,” says Sydney. “You should see his preparation throughout the week, he works his tail off day in and day out and it’s time for him to show.”
Back from injury, Brown fueled an Illini offense that failed to score a touchdown at Purdue last week and has largely struggled the past three games. Illinois racked up a season high 414 total yards with more than 80 percent of that coming on the ground.
“You see Chase and his ability and his skillset but I think he also has the ability to take the home run hit like you saw,” says Illini head coach Bret Bielema. “There wasn’t anybody catching him so he’s really just scratching the surface of what he’ll become.”
The offense was good but the defense was better in the second half, clamping down and not allowing any points after giving up 14 in the first 30 minutes. Big plays from Owen Carney Jr. and Keith Randolph Jr. led the charge.
“If Johnny would have blocked better it would have been to the crib,” says Keith Randolph. “I tried to hurdle him but I’ve got to realize I’m 300 pounds now, it doesn’t work like that.”
“Just trusting in each other and having each other’s back,” says Owen Carney. “It’s a 0-0 game going into the half and really just taking control of the moment and the rest of the half.”
This wraps up non-conference play for the Illini who are now 2-4 on the season. Asked if this win was a confidence builder for his team after the game, Bielema said ‘no’, adding they should be expected to win these games.
The Illini will face Wisconsin at home next week for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff.