CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois had a chance.
Tied at 17 with 2:13 remaining against Maryland, quarterback Brandon Peters and the Illini couldn’t put together a drive to win the game, instead facing a 4th and 37 on their own nine yard line. After a Blake Hayes punt, the Terps (3-0, 1-0) got the ball back at the Illini 46-yard line and made quick work of their final drive, setting up a Joseph Petrino 32-yard game winning field goal to win it as time expired 20-17.
Facing 4th and 1 on the Maryland 45-yard line with less than five minutes to play in the game, the Illini (1-3, 1-1) elected to punt instead of go for it, after Blake Hayes tried to draw the defense offsides. Maryland had little trouble marching down the field, with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa orchestrating an eight-play, 86-yard drive in just 2:37 to tie the game up.
In a defensive battle from the start, the Terps took the early 3-0 lead in the second quarter after a scoreless first 15 minutes, as the Illini have yet to score a point in the opening quarter in four games. James McCourt was able to tie the game 3-3 with a 25-yard field goal late in the first half to even the game up at halftime. The first touchdown didn’t come until the third quarter, when Tayon Fleet-Davis found the endzone on a 2-yard run to put the Terps ahead 10-3.
The Illini were resilient and were able to bounce back in the form of true freshman running back Josh McCray, who broke away on a 38-yard touchdown run midway though the third to tie it up at 10. It stayed that way until the start of the fourth quarter when Illinois got a break. After McCray and fellow tailback Chase Brown went down with injuries, Reggie Love III entered the game and found some success. The St. Louis native found a seam and broke free but fumbled before going to the turf. Casey Washington was in the right place at the right time, picked it up and ran for the touchdown to give the Illini their first lead in a game since the season opener against Nebraska.
Josh McCray was the leading rusher for the Illini going for 60 yards on eight carries but he was taken to the hospital after going down with an injury, according to Illini head coach Bret Bielema.
Chase Brown also left the game with a shoulder injury, per Bielema, he finished with a game high 14 carries 57 yards. In his first game back from a left, non-throwing shoulder injury, Peters completed 10 of his 26 passes for 185 yards and an interception. The super-senior was sacked six times.