Kick return sparks No. 17 Iowa past Illinois
Charlie Jones sparked slow-starting Iowa with a school-record 100-yard kickoff return touchdown and Tyler Goodson rushed 27 times for 132 yards as the No. 17 Hawkeyes defeated Illinois, 33-23, on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City.
Caleb Shudak added four field goals, including the game-clincher with 1:55 left, as Iowa (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) kept its hopes alive for a conference title. The Hawkeyes entered tied with Wisconsin for the lead in the Big Ten West.
After the outcome was decided, both teams scored touchdowns in the final two minutes. Jack Campbell had a 32-yard interception return touchdown for Iowa, which leads the nation with 21 interceptions. Illinois capped the scoring with 31 seconds left.
In falling to Iowa for the eighth straight time, Illinois (4-7, 3-5) saw its hopes end for a postseason bowl. The Illini were without head coach Bret Bielema, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Assistant head coach George McDonald assumed Bielema’s duties.
Gunning for its third road upset of a ranked team in its last four games, Illinois drove for a touchdown on the game’s first possession but got little else on offense. Iowa limited top rusher Chase Brown to 42 yards on 13 carries, while Brandon Peters completed 16 of 36 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Peters gave Illinois the lead with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Luke Ford. When a low snap went through the legs of Iowa punter Tory Taylor, the Hawkeyes lost 29 yards on the play to set up a 46-yard field goal by James McCourt that put the Illini up 10-0.
But Jones made his tide-turning play as he received the ensuing kickoff next to a goal-line pylon, ran to the other side of the field and streaked up the left sideline for the touchdown.
Iowa took the lead for good in the second quarter when wideout Arland Bruce scored on a 2-yard carry. Bruce helped set up the score with a key 28-yard reception to convert a third down.
It remained a one-score game as the teams traded field goals until Shudak made his late kick.
–Field Level Media