Champaign (WCIA) — Facing third and six, Illinois quarterback John Paddock rolled to his right and connected with Isaiah Williams for a 21-yard walk-off overtime touchdown to beat Indiana 48-45.
The last pass finished off a historic 507 yard passing performance for the Illinois walk-on, as Paddock now ranks second in program history in passing yards in a game. The Ball State transfer trails only Dave Wilson, who threw for 621 yards in 1980 against Ohio State. Paddock’s total is, however, the most by any player in the history of Memorial Stadium.
“There wasn’t much that I liked frontside so I kind of just got flushed out,” Paddock said of the final play in overtime. “1, I knew exactly what he was going to do as soon as he put his foot in the ground. He had the right idea. He was wide open. That was just as much him as it was getting outside the pocket.”
“When I was a quarterback, I think similar to him,” Williams said of his connection with Paddock. “He goes through his reads and he wants you to win fast. When you win fast it helps him with his progressions. That’s the way I like to play receiver, I like to just go.”
Williams turned in a big day himself, reeling in 9 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns. The big day for the St. Louis native put him over 200 receptions and 2,000 yards in his Illinois career. A big comeback after losing a muffed punt in the first quarter.
“When Isaiah had issues with that punt on the first one, [wide receiver coach George McDonald] said, “Just stay the course. He’s going to be just fine,'” Bret Bielema said. “Next play he’s streaking into the endzone. I think Geo did a nice job of getting them into matchups, Barry did a nice job of play concept designing it.”
“It always feels good going through some adversity and being able to bounce back,” Williams said. “Of course you don’t want to go through that and hurt my team in any way, put my defense in bad situations but being able to overcome that personally it feels great.”
Bielema also said postgame that usual starter Luke Altmyer will be available to practice again this week. Now at 5-5, Illinois needs to win one of its final two games to become bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2011.
Illinois kicks off at Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2:30 p.m.