Illini Fall Short, Interception Gives EIU Win


Published on November 6 2017 7:17 am
Last Updated on November 6 2017 7:17 am
Written by Millie Lange

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Fighting Illini fell short of its bid in the Battle for the Cannon on Saturday, suffering a 29-10 loss at Purdue.

Thomas Takes the Reigns

After splitting time with Jeff George, Jr. the past two weeks, true freshman quarterback Cam Thomas took the bulk of the snaps under center for the Illini on Saturday. Making his first career start, Thomas finished 10-for-20 passing for 159 yards.

Thomas is the fourth true freshman to start a game at quarterback in program history, joining Aaron Bailey ('13), Isiah "Juice" Williams ('06) and Kurt Kittner ('98).

Dorsey for Six

Late in the first quarter, freshman tight end Louis Dorsey hauled in an eight-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jeff George, Jr. The touchdown capped off a 10 play, 75-yard drive and tied the game 7-7. The touchdown is the second of Dorsey's career.

Tight First Half

It was a typical, hard-hitting Big Ten showing in the first half on Saturday, as the two teams traded blows throughout the first thirty minutes of play. After the Illini offense matched Purdue with the late first quarter touchdown, both teams added field goals in the second quarter. Purdue took a 13-10 lead into the half with a 42-yard field goal as time expired.

Team Notes

    Illinois started seven true freshmen (DE Bobby Roundtree, DB Bennett Williams, LB Nate Hobbs, WR Ricky Smalling, OL Alex Palczewski, OL Larry Boyd, OL Vederian Lowe).
    2017 Freshman Starters by Game: 3, 7, 10, 8, 8, 9, 8, 7, 7 (program record before this season: 5)
    Illinois' seven true freshmen starters are tied for the sixth-most in a game in program history. The record of 10 was set at South Florida earlier this season.
    Illinois' most cumulative true freshmen starts in a season: 67 (2017), 34 (1977), 33 (2006)
    12 of Illinois' 15 offensive touchdowns (80 percent) have been scored by true freshmen, including 10 of the last 11. Freshman touchdowns have been scored by Ra'Von Bonner (4), Mike Epstein (4), Ricky Smalling (2) and Louis Dorsey (2).
    Illinois has started 16 true freshmen this season, the most in the nation and an Illinois program record (added QB Thomas today).
    Illinois started three true freshmen on the offensive line for the fifth time in program history and for the fifth straight game (T Larry Boyd, G Alex Palczewski, T Vederian Lowe).
    Illinois has used 28 first-time starters in 2017, the most in the nation (added QB Thomas today).
    Illinois captains: DT Jamal Milan, LB Ayo Shogbonyo, RB Kendrick Foster

Individual Notes

    Freshman QB Cam Thomas became the fourth Illinois true freshman to start a game at quarterback in program history, joining Aaron Bailey (2013, 1G), Isiah "Juice" Williams (2006, 9G) and Kurt Kittner (1998, 5G). Thomas was 10-of-20 passing for 159 yards and ran 14 times for 30 yards.
    Sophomore QB Jeff George Jr. was 2-of-7 passing 11 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
    Freshman TE Louis Dorsey caught an 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter from George, Dorsey's second touchdown reception of the season.
    Senior WR Malik Turner has caught a pass in 29 straight games, which is among the top-20 active streaks in the nation. • Freshman WR Ricky Smalling has at least one catch of 20+ yards in five straight games. Smalling caught two passes for 46 yards. • Junior TE Henry McGrew had his first career reception.
    OL Christian DiLauro started at guard for the first time in his career. His previous 34 career starts were at tackle.
    Freshman DE Isaiah Gay had a career-high three solo tackles.
    Freshman DB Michael Marchese recovered a fumble on a third-quarter muffed punt, his first career statistic of any kind.
    Freshman DB Stanley Green led the Illini with 10 tackles (3 solo).
    Senior RB Kendrick Foster led the Illini with 73 yards rushing (17 carries) and tied for the team lead with 46 yards receiving (2 receptions).

Dewberry's Interception Gives EIU Football Win

CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois safety Bradley Dewberry picked off a pass from Eastern Kentucky’s Tim Boyle on the first play of EKU’s overtime drive to give EIU a 23-20 win on senior day at O’Brien Field.
It was the third win in overtime this season for Eastern Illinois as the Panthers improved to 6-4 overall, 5-2 in the OVC.   The win locked up the third straight winning season for the program, the longest stretch of consecutive winnings seasons since 2005-07.  EKU fell to 3-6 overall, 3-4 in the OVC.
In a game lead by solid defensive performances it was two offensive drives that provided some of the sparks on a misty afternoon.   EKU started a drive at its own 46 yard line with 3:46 remaining and the score tied at 13-13.  After being held in check most of the game, Daryl McCleskey ripped off a 23-yard run with 1:33 left to play giving EKU the ball at the EIU 4-yard line.  McCleskey would score three plays later putting the Colonels up 20-13 with 37 seconds remaining.
Following a short kickoff that Vincent Speller returned to the EIU 33-yard line, the Panthers took over with 32 seconds remaining.  Scotty Gilkey Jr. hit Dennis Turner for a 19-yard strike on the first play from scrimmage moving the ball into EKU territory.  After an incomplete pass Gilkey then connected with Aaron Gooch on a crossing route.  Gooch raced out of bounds at the 26-yard line with ten seconds remaining.  Gilkey then hit Alexander Hollins for a 26-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone.  Matt Severino hit the extra point with two seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Severino then hit from 45 yards out on EIU’s offensive possession in overtime.  It was his third field goal of the game and second over 40-yards.  He hit from 44 in the second quarter that tied the game at 10-10 going into the half.
Gilkey scored the Panthers opening touchdown on a 1-yard run in the first quarter.  He would rush for 34 yards while passing for 213 yards and the one score.  Hollins had four catches for 107 yards and the game tying score.  It was his fourth 100-yard receiving game this season.
McCleskey scored the Colonels other touchdown in the first quarter on a 14-yard run.  He would finish with 70 yards rushing but as a team the Colonels were held to just 64 yards rushing.  Boyle passed for 216 yards but threw two interceptions on the day.  Lucas Williams tacked on a pair of field goals for EKU.
The Panthers defensive effort was led by Dytarious Johnson with seven tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss.  EIU had 11 total tackles for loss with Xzavier Shugars, Nick Horne and David Johnson all picking up two tackles for loss.  Dewberry had five tackles and both picks for the Panthers.
Kobie Grace led EKU with 11 tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.