Penalties, turnovers to blame in Illinois loss

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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.

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The Blackhawks were finally getting healthy and now may be missing a key player once again. That depends on how Niklas Hjalmarsson feels after suffering an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

It was certainly the toughest part of the Blackhawks' victory, a 6-3 triumph that has the Blackhawks closing in on the Wild. We'll see what the Hjalmarsson update is over the weekend. Until then, let's look at the notables from this one.

What Worked: The offense. We'll give an honorable mention to the penalty kill, which snuffed out all of the Coyotes' chances including a double minor that overlapped the second and third periods. But the offense was just buzzing again. Here's another shocker: the top line is still working just fine. The trio got things started with Nick Schmaltz's goal just 37 seconds into the game (Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik assisted). And much like in their meeting with the Coyotes earlier this month, the Blackhawks needed just about every bit of that offense. While we're on this topic...

What Didn't Work: The first-period defense. The Blackhawks looked like they were in good shape up 3-1 but then they gave up two goals within a minute late in the period. Michal Rozsival had a rough start in his first game since Jan. 15, but overall, the Blackhawks' defense through that first period looked discombobulated. Obviously, it didn't help that the Blackhawks lost Hjalmarsson during the first, either.

[RELATED: Patrick Kane nets hat trick as Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes]

Star of the game: Patrick Kane. One game after Jonathan Toews recorded a hat trick Kane did the same, scoring his 21st, 22nd and 23rd goals of the season. On a night in which the Blackhawks dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Kane got a little extra playing time. His first goal came on a first-period shift with Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero, the second off a long pass from Brent Seabrook and the third with his usual line mates.

He Said It: "I didn't play much before I got hurt, then I missed four weeks with my injury. It wasn't easy but definitely the way the team's playing now, it made it easier for me. It felt like the first game of the season for me but glad we got the victory and glad I was back playing. I enjoyed it." — Michal Rozsival on returning to the Blackhawks' lineup. 

By the Numbers: 

6 – Number of times, in their last eight games, the Blackhawks have scored five or more goals.

342 – Assists for Jonathan Toews, who tied Dennis Hull for 12th all-time in franchise history in that category.

35 – Combined points for the Blackhawks' top liners Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik in their nine games together. The breakdown in those nine games: Toews has 16 points, Panik 10 and Schmaltz nine.

1997 – The last time the Blackhawks had hat tricks in back-to-back regular-season games. Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze had them on April 11 and April 13, 1997, respectively.