2011 Illinois Fighting Illini Football

Big Ten football fans

Illinois @ Penn State Football Recap

Penn State 10, Illinois 7



On a snowy afternoon that was the enemy of offensive production, a seven-point deficit felt like a Mount Everest-sized peak to climb. However, in a season that’s breaking right at every turn, the lads who call themselves Nittany Lions once again found winning answers precisely when their prospects had turned bleak.

The Penn State Nittany Lions improved to 8-1 with a comeback victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini on a snowy Saturday at Beaver Stadium, giving iconic coach Joe Paterno his 409th career win, breaking the Division I record set by Grambling’s Eddie Robinson. Illinois (6-3) has now lost three straight games. This contest was hard on the eyes – the two teams combined for seven turnovers and fumbled the ball on several other occasions, but in the end, the three-point win looks very beautiful in the Big Ten standings for Penn State.

The Illini took a 7-0 lead with 3:32 left in the third quarter on a 10-yard pass from Scheelhaase to Spencer Harris. A lot of people in the stadium and watching on television felt that with the way Penn State’s offense was sputtering, the Illini had a very substantial advantage. However, yet another stomach-punch loss emerged for Illinois, further diminishing the career of head coach Ron Zook.

Penn State cobbled together 10 fourth-quarter points, culminating with Silas Redd’s three-yard touchdown run, which gave Penn State a 10-7 lead with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter. The Lions drove 80 yards to produce the winning score, a stunning development on a day when PSU accumulated only 209 yards all told.

Redd carried 30 times for 137 yards. The sophomore has now run for over 100 yards in five straight games, and he saved his best for his team’s winning drive.

Illinois kicker Derek Dimke had a chance to tie the game with a 42-yard field goal attempt as time expired, but his kick hit the right upright, completing the kind of fourth-quarter collapse that has become an all-too-frequent part of the Zook era.

Matt McGloin handled the bulk of the snaps in the Lions’ two-quarterback rotation. McGloin completed just nine of 24 passes for 98 yards and an interception in the ugly weather. Rob Bolden was ineffective in limited action, attempting four passes without a completion. Star wide receiver Derek Moye saw limited action for Penn State after missing the previous two games with a foot injury. Moye provided a spark during Penn State’s game-winning drive by catching two passes for 29 yards – his only catches of the game. People in and around the Penn State program, beginning with Paterno himself, were reluctant to push Moye into action before he was appreciably healthy, but when the Nittany Lions’ offense withered on the vine, the need for Moye’s presence became too profound to ignore. Paterno pulled the trigger and allowed Moye to enter the game; that’s the kind of decision a 409-game-winning coach makes at many points in an illustrious career.

Illinois’ pass offense struggled in the wintry conditions. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 63 yards and a touchdown. Top receiver A.J. Jenkins was held to 43 yards on six receptions. Senior running back Jason Ford carried 24 times for 100 yards for the Illini. Scheelhaase added 89 yards on 14 rush attempts.

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By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer



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