Penalties, turnovers to blame in Illinois loss


Penalties, turnovers to blame in Illinois loss

CHAMPAIGN The Illinois football faithful are not suffering alone.
After a disappointing 31-17 loss on Homecoming, Illini head coach Tim Beckman said he has lost 22 pounds during his teams losing streak, which extended to five games on Saturday.
"You think I like losing? I havent been around it. I hate it," Beckman said. "Its not acceptablewe want to win and were not getting done."
Personal foul penalties, a muffed punt and a fumble were directly at fault for Illinois' woes against Indiana. The visiting Hoosiers scored 21 points after penalties or turnovers to hand Illinois a loss on homecoming.
Dont turn ball over, dont beat yourself, Beckman said. Indiana didnt have penalties, they didnt turn the ball over, and they won the game. No ones a good enough team to do those things and win.
Early in the game, however, everything was coming up Illinois. On the Hoosiers first drive of the game Ashante Williams came up with a big third down stop to force a three-and-out to get the ball in the hands of Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illini quarterback did not disappoint the homecoming crowd with his first chance of the day.
On the first play from scrimmage Scheelhaase found a wide-open Darius Millines for 28 yards, crossing into IU territory. Two plays later he kept the ball and rushed for 19 yards, setting Illinois up at the Hoosiers 26. Millines got back in on the fun shortly after, fending off a defender for a 15-yard catch and run, bringing Illinois to the three-yard line.
Scheelhaase finished the drive with an easy pass on the right side to tight end Eddie Viliunas for a three-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Illinois first since the fourth quarter of their Oct. 6 game at Wisconsin.
Indiana responded quickly, marching 75 yards in three minutes to tie the game at seven. A costly unnecessary roughness penalty on Terry Hawthorne led to large passing gains from Cameron Coffman to Cody Latimer and DAngelo Roberts. Those passes set up running back Stephen Houston, who put IU on the board with a three-yard run.
The Illinois defense responded positively to Indianas touchdown, however. On the next IU drive Michael Buchanan put heavy pressure on Coffman, forcing him to throw a floater right into the arms of defensive back Steve Hull.
Illinois offense came short on the next drive, but the defense got them the ball back quickly, forcing a punt deep in Indiana territory.
After getting the ball back, Illinois started to exploit holes in the Indiana defensive line. Running back Donovonn Young and Scheelhaase combined to run for three straight first downs from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter. With 12:12 left in the first half, Scheelhaase finished the drive with a five-yard run, giving Illinois a 14-7 lead over the guests.
The lead did not last long, as another personal foul penalty hurt Illinois on the ensuing Indiana drive. After a sack, Justin Staples was flagged for a late hit out of bounds, giving IU a first down. With Nate Sudfeld in at quarterback, the Hoosiers immediately capitalized. The new QB found Latimer open in the middle for a 48-yard gain.
Sudfeld finished the drive and tied the game with a 10-yard pass to Houston at 10:10.The Illini offense could not do much on the next drive, but the defense bailed them out by stopping IU in short order. The Indiana offense would not be driven from the field so easily, however, as Tommy Davis muffed the punt, giving the Hoosiers the ball back deep in Illinois territory.
Illinois got the Hoosiers in trouble again, forcing fourth and one, but were done in by penalties again. This time Glenn Foster jumped offside on fourth down, giving Indiana a fresh set of downs from the seven yard line. IU only needed one play, however. Houston scored his third touchdown of the day on the first play after the penalty, putting Indiana ahead 21-14.
The game would go to halftime without any further scoring, Illinois trailing 21-14.On the first drive of the second half, Young coughed up the football, setting Indiana up at the Illinois 20. Defense would hold firm, however, and force the Hoosiers to kick. Mitch Ewalds kick was good and IU took a 24-14 lead with 8:04 in the third.
The Illini offense came right back at Indiana on the next drive. Millines pulled in a pair of receptions over 10 yards to get Illinois deep in their opponents territory. Runs from Scheelhaase and Young would come up short, however, forcing Illinois to settle for a field goal.
Taylor Zalewskis kick with 2:33 left in the third brought Illinois back within a touchdown, 24-17.
Neither team would create much after the field goal, with Indianas defense coming up with timely stops and the offense content to run the clock down. The Hoosiers running game got on a roll midway through the fourth quarter, however.
Indiana ran the ball five times, marching from their own 40 to the Illinois 17. From there, Sudfeld ran a play action to the right and got the Illinois defense to bite hard. He then hit Shane Wynn at the other side of the field for a 17-yard touchdown reception, putting IU ahead, 31-17.
Scheelhaase led a furious drive in the final three minutes, finding receiver Ryan Lankford open three times for gains of 11, 24 and 15 yards. The drive reached the Indiana 15-yard line before the Hoosiers secondary came up with a stop.
After a sack and three incomplete passes, Indiana took over and knelt to kill off the remaining minute-and-a-half.
After the game, Illinois coaches and players lamented their inability to overcome errors and finish the game strongly. The Illini led in first downs (23-14), rushing yards(196-121), and passing yards (176-171) but could not make those advantages count.
We came out strong better than we usually did, but weve got to finish what we started at the end. This was a tough loss, Millines, who had a season high in receiving with 80 yards, said.
Were just not to the point right now where we can overcome any setbacks, offensive coordinator Chris Beatty said. When we sit back and get a penalty here or there, were not good enough to overcome that. At some point we will be, but right now were not.

Griffins hope to avoid 'sick feeling' going forward after blowout loss to Bradley

Griffins hope to avoid 'sick feeling' going forward after blowout loss to Bradley

Not all losses are created equal.

When Lincoln-Way East suffered a 35-30 defeat in Week 3 to Homewood-Flossmoor, the Griffins took positives away from the loss. They had held a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, battled back from adversity in the second half and had a chance to win the game in the final minute. Even that loss in retrospect appeared acceptable – if there ever was an acceptable loss – as the Vikings are currently 8-0 and in their other seven wins have outscored their opponents by an average of 38 points.

By Week 3 the Griffins were still acclimating to the unique situation of playing at game speed with a host of Lincoln-Way North students who had transferred in the offseason. They had a defense made up almost entirely of first-year starters, and the offense was still rotating quarterbacks Jake Arthur and Max Shafer to figure out how to maximize their talent. By many standards the Griffins went toe-to-toe for 48 minutes with a team also considered to be a favorite for a state title.

The same couldn’t be said for the Griffins’ effort last Friday night in Bradley.

An esteemed program with a 2005 state title and 16 consecutive playoff appearances to their resume, it isn’t often the Griffins are embarrassed on Friday night. But those were the words head coach Rob Zvonar used in his postgame speech to the team following their 38-21 loss to the undefeated Boilermakers.

“We chose to play the game,” Zvonar began. “Which means you play it to the greatest of your ability and you honor each other, God, everybody by your play. And we didn’t do that tonight.”

There were plenty of reasons the Griffins suffered their second loss of the season. That is came in such blowout fashion was the bigger surprise. The Boilermakers found the end zone on their first two possessions, rallying behind a raucous home crowd hoping to see their team go 8-0 for the first time in school history.

The Griffins defense, which had allowed 27 points the previous three weeks combined, were on their heels as the Boilermakers used misdirection and a few trick plays to set up the short touchdown runs.

The Griffins offense moved down the field on their fourth possession, moving inside the Boilermakers red zone looking to get on the board. But Iowa commit Camron Harrell stepped in front of a Griffins screen pass on 4th down and returned it 89 yards for a score. On the final play of the first quarter, with the Griffins moving again, Damien Williams read a route and picked off Jake Arthur, returning it 53 yards for a score to give the Boilermakers a shocking 28-0 lead after 12 minutes.

After a spirited halftime speech from Zvonar, the Griffins came out firing in the second half, scoring on a touchdown run from Nigel Muhammad and a Jeremy Nelson 27-yard reception from Arthur. But the Boilermakers weathered the storm each time Lincoln-Way East attempted a comeback. The Griffins only got as close as 14 points late in the fourth quarter.

“I think we came into this game not ready,” said Muhammad, who finished with 164 yards on 24 carries. “But we’re all a team and we all accept this loss together.”

Added senior Jack Carroll, who finished with a team-high nine tackles: “We have this sick feeling in our stomach right now but the best thing is (next) Friday we can come back and get it out of our stomach. If we lose again in the playoffs then we’ll have that sick feeling in our stomach for the rest of our lives.”

That’s now the reality for the Griffins, and a silver lining if there ever could be one for such a blowout loss. With the playoffs a mere week away – the Griffins defeated Lockport on Friday to finish the regular season 7-2 – the feeling each of them felt getting on the bus back to Frankfort will linger with them and act as a reminder of how quickly things can slip away.

“We’re trying to put this behind us,” said Max Shafer. “We’re going to try to get hot and make a run in the playoffs.”

In a loaded 8A class, the Griffins’ two regular-season losses have already knocked them down in the seeding process. While any loss before Week 9 means little in the long run – the Griffins locked up a playoff berth weeks ago – it also means a more difficult road to Champaign. But that’s the reality for Zvonar’s group, and whether it’s a defense playing faster or an offense avoiding costly mistakes, the Griffins are running out of time to right the ship.

But Zvonar believes such a loss as the team suffered last Friday night can act as the catalyst to doing just that. The Griffins have established themselves as one of the state’s premier programs, and that means not riding the highs too high, and not breaking apart when the lows come. Last Friday night was as low as Zvonar had seen any of his 16 teams, but the silver lining occurred in that his squad now knows what it has to do to avoid it when it’s win or go home.

“What we also think is that the program is built on a solid foundation, so when you take a little hit like that you battle back and you go back to what you believe in and what you know can be successful. And that’s fundamentals and keeping things simple, and the kids have bounced back and they’re not acceptable to them what occurred to them, so very proud of their effort and the way they’re working.

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