Illini come up short in fourth quarter, Hawkeyes win 33-23 in Iowa City


IOWA CITY (WCIA) — Down a touchdown in the fourth quarter the Illini needed a spark and they got it from Kerby Joseph. The Illini safety picked off Alex Padilla’s pass, setting up a prime opportunity for the Orange and Blue, but much like it did the majority of the second half, the offense couldn’t get the job done. Illinois lost 33-23 to the No. 17 Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

“I feel like the offense, we’ve got to do a better job to help the defense,” said wide receiver Isaiah Williams. “I feel like as of lately our defense has been playing great and the offense has to pick it up, move the ball and find ways to help the defense.”

The 10-point loss wraps up a hectic week for the Illini without their head coach. George McDonald filled in for Bret Bielema, who did not make the trip after testing positive for COVID-19. Bielema had to stop all communication with the team 90 minutes before the game and only met virtually with his guys since Sunday.

“You want your head coach going into every single game but this week that wasn’t what it was and we had to adapt and accept what the situation was.”

“Coach is awesome, you know I can’t wait to talk to him and I’m disappointed because I wanted to give him the game ball,” said McDonald. “I love this place, I love Coach B, I think there’s a lot of people in there that are hurting because we wanted to get this done and there we chances to get this done and we didn’t.”

Bielema said earlier in the week he hopes to be back in time for next week’s regular season finale against Northwestern at Memorial Stadium. With this loss, Illinois falls to 4-7, meaning their bowl dreams are officially on life support. They can still hope to make the postseason with five, if the conference doesn’t fill its allotment of teams, but that would also mean they have to beat the Wildcats for the first time since 2014.

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