blueollie

Illinois 27 Middle Tennessee 25: special teams are the difference.

I don’t think this is what Illinois had in mind when they scheduled this game years ago. But what the fans got: an exciting game between equally matched teams.

In a nutshell: MTSU rallied from a 24-12 4’th quarter deficit to lead 25-24 with 4 minutes to go. Illinois drove and hit a 51 yard field goal with 2 minutes to go.

560746a1bac2f.image

But MTSU drove down the field, only to miss from 43 with 8 seconds to go. Whew!

Total yards were close: 378 to 368 in favor of Illinois. Illinois defended the run very well but gave up a lot of passing yards in the 4’th quarter.

The game started well; the Illini drove it 75 yards..easily…mixing running and passing. It was 7-0 right off the bat and I thought “maybe I underestimated the Illini”.

The defense got a quick stop and the Illini got another drive. But a sack stalled the drive.

The MTSU got the ball and answered with a long drive of their own; they went from their 20 to the Illini 2 mixing running and passing. But they got a bad center exchange (from the pistol formation) which cost them 14 yards, and a big sack forced them back. But they made a 42 yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.

Then came an exchange of punts as the defenses took over for a bit; Illinois had another drive but missed a 38 yard field goal.

But the defense got a stop and blocked the punt (up the middle rush) and covered it for a touchdown. And then they stopped MTSU again, but MTSU got a long punt that rolled to the Illinois one.

Next play: the center/quarterback exchange was botched (QB under center)

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt and Illinois Fighting Illini tight end Nathan Echard (39) go after a loose ball in the end zone in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium Saturday September 26, 2015.

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette
Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt and Illinois Fighting Illini tight end Nathan Echard (39) go after a loose ball in the end zone in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium Saturday September 26, 2015.

The fullback picked up the ball but couldn’t get it out of the end zone. It was a safety.

Then MTSU got a free kick, got the ball and on the second play, hit a 63 yard touchdown pass. Now it was 14-9.

460x

Illinois was stopped. Then when MTSU got the ball, they started to drive but the Illinois defense got a big sack/fumble and a defensive end ran with the fumble. He was caught and stripped of the ball but recovered his own fumble at the MTSU 11. Illinois couldn’t move it, but got a field goal with a few seconds left. It was 17-12 at the half.

The second half: the Illini defense got a quick stop and Illinois owned the third quarter, in terms of scrimmage play. But on the first drive, the Illini were taken out of field goal range via a sack.

The next drive: the Illini get to the MTSU 4 and have 4’th and 2 to go. But they bring out their running quarterback, call time out, bring out their regular quarterback, time out again, and then end up attempting a pass and failing.

The defense holds, and this time the offense finishes the drive; it is now 24-12 and perhaps there is some breathing room.

But in the 4’th quarter, MTSU turns into a “pass on every down” team. 70+ yards: it is now 24-19.

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders wide receiver Ed'Marques Batties (80) spins away from Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Mason Monheim (43) after making a fourth-down, fourth-quarter catch at Memorial Stadium Saturday September 26, 2015.

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders wide receiver Ed’Marques Batties (80) spins away from Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Mason Monheim (43) after making a fourth-down, fourth-quarter catch at Memorial Stadium Saturday September 26, 2015.

They stop the Illini. Then comes the drive where MTSU takes the lead.

But their two point conversion is stopped; their lead is 25-24 with 4:11 to play.

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

But then the Illini drive to kick that 51 yard field goal with 2:11 to go, and MTSU got the ball…

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

And they missed their attempt. But as their coach said after the game: their kicking game is shaky:

Rick Stockstill, on the other hand, didn’t have a lot of confidence that the Blue Raiders (2-2) would get the win with Clark kicking from 43 yards out.

“Not really. I mean we’ve been inconsistent this whole year,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you and say I thought it was he was going to make it.”

Note: they did run the ball from the 29 and threw incomplete from the 26 on third down; I wonder if they should have tried a 4-5 yard play. But that is armchair quarterbacking.

Notes: I had 2 extra tickets in the upper deck:

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

Better view of the whole field, but I like my regular seats better, so that is where I sat.

September 27, 2015 - Posted by | college football, football |

2 Comments »

  1. […] back to last season, the Illini have won 5 home games in a row, and 3 of the games (Penn State, Middle Tennessee, this game) featured an Illinois comeback and the game not being decided until 10 seconds in the […]

    Pingback by Illini rally to beat Nebraska 14-13; overcome missed opportunities « blueollie | October 4, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] in which the visiting team flat out blew the game (Nebraska: poor time management with the lead and Middle Tennessee: missed 41 yard field goal as time expired). Yes, there was an easy win over […]

    Pingback by Ok, for the important stuff: Illinois Football for 2016 « blueollie | August 1, 2016 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: