(WCIA) — It feels like deja vu for the Illinois Football team who’s decision to punt on fourth down once again led their opponents into the end zone to take the lead. But unlike the Maryland game last week, the Illini didn’t even score a touchdown in their 13-9 loss to the Boilermakers on Saturday.
“I felt that we could put ourselves in a positive situation, I do think offensively we wanted to make it a physical game,” says head coach Bret Bielema. “We wanted to come downhill at them, and even that last drive getting down there in positive field position, we just weren’t able to close it out.”
Brandon Peters was 14-26 with just 100 yards passing, and despite a career-high 156 yards for Josh McCray the Illini were only in the red zone once.
“We’re moving the ball down the field and getting in field goal range but that’s not enough, we need touchdowns,” says Illinois offensive lineman Doug Kramer. “And that comes down to execution and finishing and when you get down towards the red area that’s literally the most important thing is just executing.”
Illinois had several momentum shifts to help it go their way — Tony Adams and Kerby joseph each had second-half interceptions. Joseph picked off Aidan O’Connell in the Purdue end zone to keep it tied in the third quarter. This marks Joseph’s third straight game with a takeaway, as he continues to have a breakout year on the Illinois secondary, with 23 tackles.
“It’s been unreal and I’m proud of him,” says defensive back Sydney Brown. “I’m proud of [Kerby] for making that step and he’s filling in the role for sure and he’s just going to keep getting better each week.”
“The past couple years haven’t gone how I wanted,” says Joseph. “My team kept me alive and kept me positive, kept me humble. So my teammates, my brothers, and even the coaches — they kept me up. Id’ say that’s my motivation right there.”
The Illini will now turn their focus to Charlotte. The 49’ers will visit memorial stadium on Saturday for an 11am kickoff.