STATE COLLEGE, PA. (WCIA) — Casey Washington couldn’t hold in the tears, and for good reason. While his teammates celebrated, the Illini receiver did his best to take it all in, in a game that will forever live in Illini lore, the longest in FBS college football history.
Illinois and PSU went back-and-forth in the first two overtime periods, trading a pair of field goals. Entering the fourth overtime, they went to a battle of two-point conversions, taking it all the way until an 8th overtime where both Penn State and the Illini both scored to send it to a ninth overtime. Art Sitkowksi left the game with an injury, but Illinois sealed the deal with a big defensive stop, and a Brandon Peters pass to Casey Washington to win it for the Illini.
Washington caught the game-winning touchdown in the ninth overtime period, that led Illinois to a 20-18 to upset over the Nittany Lions.
“Honestly I’ve never been in a position like that so the first thing that came to me, I actually cried,” says Casey Washington. “It just felt good”
There were plenty of hugs to go around, none bigger than Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman to his first year Illini coach, who won his 100th career game.
“I had no idea it was my 100th victory,” says head coach Bret Bielema. “I had no idea but like I told the crew, a lot of those victories came from other places, hopefully this is the start of 100 more”
The Illini faced adversity time and time again, injuries, penalties calling back two go ahead touchdowns in the second half and a nine overtime periods but they found a way to get it done when it mattered most, spoiling Penn State’s homecoming.
“We gave all we had,” says senior Owen Carney. “We played a good nine and we played a complete football game and it was amazing”
“Proud of this team, proud of the work we put in, proud of the results obviously,” says linebacker Tarique Barnes. “This is well warranted, well waited on, expected all of that. We came out here and did what we had to do to win and there’s nothing better than saying you did that on someone else’s home field especially against at Top 10 team”
Illinois leaves very Happy from the Valley, and their reward? A cold shower. Bielema said after the game he motivated his team this week by telling them Penn State makes the showers cold for the visiting team if they win. The Illini players said it’s the best cold shower they’ve ever had.
“I’ve never been in a position like that, so the first thing that came to me was I actually cried,” says Washington. “It just felt good, and my team, they stood behind me no matter what.”
Illinois was dominant on the ground today, with 357 rushing yards. Chase Brown had the only Illini touchdown in regulation, leading the offense with 223 yards.
Illinois is back at home next week, taking on Rutgers at Memorial Stadium.