WCIA — Illinois is back at .500 for the first time since September and with the overtime winner over Indiana, the Illini have won back-to-back games for the first time in a year.
The heart got pumping a little faster than most Illini fans would have wanted towards the end, as the Hoosiers forced overtime with a last minute touchdown and two-point conversion. Walk-on quarterback John Paddock’s 507 yard day will go down in the history books as the second-most passing yards in a game ever by and Illini QB.
99 of those yards were to Casey Washington, who prior to Saturday had never caught a touchdown pass in college.
“It’s wild, how is that even possible?” Paddock said postgame. “I don’t even know how that’s possible. I remember hearing that when I first got here that Casey hasn’t scored a touchdown, I’m just like, ‘That’s crazy.'”
“Casey Washington got his first touchdown today, I can’t believe that,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said. “This kid has absolutely been lights out.”
“It’s been a long way you know? The journey has been ups, downs, sideways. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s my path,” Washington said. “It’s my obstacle and I’m just so grateful for the teammates I have in my life. The coaches. It just feels great. I’m just extremely grateful right now.”
The passing game opened up the run game for the Illini who relied on Reggie Love III. The St. Louis native had a career day with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a game he was not even supposed to play that much in. With Kaden Feagin getting injured on the first drive, Love became the primary back in his first game in a month.
“It was great. That’s all, it was great,” Love said. “There’s no words to describe the feeling I have right now. For me, for the offense. It was just great.”
Illinois heads to Iowa on Saturday as Bielema looks to win at his alma mater for the first time at Illinois. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m.