Western Courier

Necks brought down by Big Ten team

Tony+Tate+sets+up+at+the+line+of+scrimmage+at+Memorial+Stadium+on+Saturday.
Tony Tate sets up at the line of scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Tony Tate sets up at the line of scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Tony Tate sets up at the line of scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Haley Richards, Sports Editor

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Western Illinois football team played Big Ten opponent, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on Saturday night in front of almost 40,000 fans. It was a chilly night in Champaign but fortunately, the rain stayed away for the game. The Leathernecks fell to the Illini 34-14 and are now 0-2 on the season.

“I’m so proud to walk out of here coaching this group of guys,” head coach Jared Elliott said. “They battled and fought for the entire course of the game. Whenever you do that, you’ll always have a chance to win. I felt like we had an opportunity and you look statistically and it’s very even between the two teams.”

Western got on the board early after receiving a touchback on the kickoff and driving the ball 75 yards in less than three minutes. Senior quarterback Sean McGuire then threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver George Wahee to give the Purple and Gold the first points on the board.

The rest of the first quarter remained scoreless after both teams held each other for the remaining 12:07 left after the first touchdown. Senior linebacker Quentin Moon recorded his first sack of the season after bringing down senior quarterback AJ Bush. Bush is a transfer from Virginia Tech and was ranked fourth in the nation in rushing yards (139) before entering the game on Saturday.

With 11:27 left in the second quarter, UIUC’s senior kicker Chase McLaughlin went to attempt a 52-yard field goal, but faked it and kicked a punt that landed on the second yard line. Western started with bad field positioning and was then forced to punt. Sophomore punter Adam Fellner kicked a 39-yard punt, which put the Illini on the 45-yard line with 9:09 left in the second quarter.

Illinois finally got on the board after an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bush to freshman wide receiver Edwin Carter. The game was then tied 7-7 with 7:14 left in the second.

The Illini got another touchdown with less than three minutes left after a 16-yard pass scored by Carter, once again.

At halftime, Illinois remained ahead with a score of 14-7. The Illini lead the Leathernecks in total yards, 193 to 126.

Senior linebacker Michael Bishoff sacked Bush early in the third as a good start to the second half for the Leathernecks. That then forced Illinois’ McLaughlin to kick a 54-yard field goal which tied for the third longest kick in school history. With 12:16 left in the third, the score was 17-7.

Fellner’s punt was blocked and ran back for a touchdown with 7:22 left in the third quarter giving the Fighting Illini a larger lead of 24-7.

Hope for the Purple and Gold came back when McGuire threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Tony Tate. This put the Leathernecks at a 10-point deficit with 6:23 left in the third quarter. The score remained at 24-14 for the remainder of the third.

With 12:20 left in the fourth, Illinois kicked a 46-yard field goal to increase their lead to 27-14. A few plays later, an intercepted pass for the Illini was then returned 42-yards to the third yard line where junior running back Reggie Corbin rushed for a touchdown. With around 11 minutes left in the game the score was 34-14.

The Illini captured the game as the score stayed the same for the remainder of time. However, this was the first time in school history that the Purple and Gold have ever put up points against this Big Ten powerhouse.

“This loss hurts just like every other loss does. We expected to win this game and we didn’t reach our goal,” Elliott said. “We didn’t win. It hurts, our guys are going to hurt for 24 hours, but we’ll get back to Macomb and we’ll move on to Montana.”

Western also had many outstanding individual performances from players like McGuire who totaled 276 passing yards and Tate who had his first touchdown as a Leathernecks.

“I’m just proud that we came out and we did some different stuff we hadn’t necessarily ever done before,” McGuire said.

Western will now look toward the future as their first home game approaches. This Saturday, they will face the University of Montana at 3 p.m.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Necks brought down by Big Ten team