CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — When looking back on the last few years of Illinois football, they’re aren’t many times the Illini could have pulled of a win like Saturday’s when the Illini beat Nebraska for the first win of the season. The Illini faced plenty of adversity early on, when they lost their starting quarterback Brandon Peters who was injured off a sack. His backup, Art Sitkowski, was sacked in his first play of the game and was picked off in the next drive, but the Illini were able to change the narrative that has plagued their program for so long.
After a roughing the passer penalty was called in favor of the Illini, the momentum quickly changed. The Illini built up a 21-point advantage before halftime, with ended with a Calvin Hart Jr. fumble recovery for a touchdown. Nebraska scored a pair of touchdowns to come within eight points, but the Illini defense was able to hold off a comeback, keeping them with a 30-22 win.
“I think it showed we could battle through some adversity,” says linebacker Jake Hansen. “Our starting quarterback went down, and things just kept rolling there was no step off or drop off and I feel like that was big for us.”
“In year’s past, I feel like sometimes we layed down,” says defensive back Tony Adams. “But Art stepped in, and people stepped up, and the defense stepped up, and them guys up front stepped up, the back end, everybody, it was great.”
“It was a tough moment for us, but we knew Art was well prepared, we knew how to deal with that adversity that came with that,” says offensive lineman Vederian Lowe. “And we went out there and responded and put points on the board and I think we executed very well as an offense.”
Illinois played UTSA next in a Saturday night game at Memorial Stadium. Kick-off is at 6:30 p.m. CT.