October 30, 2021
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A winless Rutgers team went trick-or-treating in Champaign on Saturday and came away with their first October win in their bag. The Scarlet Knights scored 10 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to steal a 20-14 victory from Illinois.
The Illini (3-6, 2-4) came in looking to build off the momentum from last week's upset win over then-7th ranked Penn State and get their first back-to-back wins of the Bret Bielema era and appeared on their way to accomplishing that goal.
Senior quarterback Brandon Peters - back in the starting lineup after the season-ending injury to Artur Sitkowski at Penn State - turned in his best performance of the season. Peters came into the day having completed just 48% of his passes this season, but connected on 14 of 19 passes for a season-best 190 yards and threw two first half touchdown passes as Illinois took a 14-10 lead into halftime.
But Peters and the Illinois offense failed to find any magic in the second half. Rutgers' defense holding Peters to only 37 passing yards after halftime and the Illinois offense managed just three first downs and 81 total yards in the second half.
Rutgers (4-4, 1-4) had been winless in the month of October, but they snap a four-game losing streak during which they fell to three Big Ten ranked in the top 25 and failed to score more than 13 points in any contest.
The second half turnaround negated a positive first half for Illinois. Peters threw his best downfield pass of 2021, a deep ball to hit speedy wide receiver Isaiah Williams perfectly in stride and behind the Rutgers secondary for a 52-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 with 10:13 left in the 2nd quarter.
Then after a Scarlet Knights field goal and a pair of punts, Peters took control. He hit Casey Washington in the middle of the field for a 31-yard gain. Then after an 8-yard keeper, Peters connected with running back Chase Brown in the flat for a 15-yard catch-and-run. That set up Peters' second touchdown pass of the day, a 26-yard TD to tight end Daniel Barker, who made a nifty run through the secondary for his team-leading 4th touchdown catch of the season.
Meanwhile, a rushing attack that bulldozed the Nittany Lions for 357 yards a week earlier never got untracked. Illinois managed just 107 yards on the ground in suffering their third home loss of the season.
The Illini now hit the road, traveling to face Minnesota next Saturday.
Stay with IlliniGuys.com for more postgame analysis and reaction.
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