Illini lose momentum after strong start, Hawkeyes come back to win 35-21


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illini started the first half with all guns blazing, jumping to a 14-0 lead over the Hawkeyes, but that was nearly all they could manage against the Hawkeyes. No. 19 Iowa scored 35 unanswered points, winning the game 35-21 in Champaign.

In the first, Daniel Barker, and Josh Imatorbhebhe each added a touchdown in the first half, which was led by Brandon Peters’ stellar start. The senior made 8-straight completions, but struggled in the second half after back-to-back three-and-outs, missing his next eight. That led the Hawkeyes to score 13 points, trailing up just one point at halftime.

“Jumping out to the lead was great, you know we had the momentum but when the momentum swings, you’ve got to keep battling,” says offensive lineman Doug Kramer.

“When we get on them 14-0, the energy is there and maybe we got too comfortable,” says runningback Chase Brown.

The Hawkeyes didn’t look back after that, a nine play 70-yard drive on Iowa’s opening second half set the tone the rest of the way. They put up 424 offensive yards compared to Illinois’ 348.Combine that with several defensive injuries — including Khalan Tolson, Nate Hobbs and Jamal Woods who all left and didn’t return — and the hole was too big to climb out of for Illinois.

Isaiah Williams came into the game in the fourth quarter providing a spark for the offense. With seconds left in the game, he threw his first passing touchdown of his career to Carlos Sandy, who also scored his first career touchdown, but it was much too late for the Illini.

“I don’t think they changed anything. I think they played what they were doing earlier, better,” says head coach Lovie Smith. “We couldn’t stop them defensively, couldn’t score on offense, it’s pretty simple on what happened. Believe me we were trying to stop them and we were trying to score. Momentum shifted and you have to give them a lot of the credit.”

The Illini dropped their seventh straight game against the Hawkeyes–they haven’t beaten them since 2008. They’ll will play rival Northwestern next Saturday, who clinched the Big Ten West title this weekend.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.