Well, it's cold and overcast and a little bit gray. It's a pretty good day to watch football.
According to Tommy G. (and confirmed by KatzontheCats), running back Darrin Williams is wearing No. 10 today. It's his third number of the season. Why? No idea.
Senior Day: Nice to see Alex Daniels showcasing the freshly-saved mohawk. He didn't have that three days ago.
Captains are special team specialists long snapper Mike Windt and Charley Howard.
Illinois wins the toss and defers to the second half. UC to start with the ball.
The Illini kick to Darrin Williams, and he makes them pay. Darrin Williams returns it to the Illinois 49. First play of the game, Gilyard with the straight drop. Pike hits Binns to bring up third and 3. Hand off to Pead and he loses five yards. Three and out after obtaining such nice field postion. An uninspired start.
Juice Williams with the eight-yard run and then he completes a pass to Arrelious Benn for the first down. I expect to see plenty of running from Illinois, but its last two attempts have gained a combined two yards. Third and 8 from the Illinois 31. And that's the problem Juice represents. He takes the ball up the middle for a 17-yard gain. A nice block by OL Jon Asamoah on LB Dorian Davis. The Illini are really getting some nice downfield blocks that's allowing them to spring for long gains. First and 10 from the UC 18. Two runs knock back Illinois a combined three yards. Third and 13 from the UC 21. And a nice throw from Juice Williams to Fred Sykes on a corner route for the 21-yard TD pass.
Illinois' running backs didn't do much that drive, but Juice Williams certainly did.
Illinois 7, UC 0 (7:38 to go)
I suppose that's why Illinois didn't want to kick to Mardy Gilyard in the first place. He takes the kick off 90 yards for the touchdown.
That's the third return TD in his career. Just an electric run by Gilyard. I'm not too impressed with Illinois' kickoff coverage so far.
UC 7, Illinois 7 (7:25 to go)
Nice job by Dominique Battle smacking the ball out of Benn's hands to bring up third and 11 from the Illinois 19. Juice to Chris Duvalt but he's hammered short of the first down marker. Illinois to punt.
UC starts with good field position, on its own 41. Well, you don't get a whole lot more wide open than that. Pike scrambles and finds Ben Guidugli running by himself. They connect for the 59-yard TD.
Two plays = 14 points. Yes, Pike still has a strong, strong throwing arm.
UC 14, Illinois 7 (5:56 to go)
Juice is incomplete to bring up third down, but Illinois is called for a chopblock. The Illini move back to the 12. Second and 19. Juice tries to scramble but Curtis Young says, "No sir." Loss of one. Third and 20 form the 11. Juice overthrows Jack Ramsey (the longlost brother of Jake Ramsey) by about five yards. Illinois to punt.
More good field position for UC, starting on its own 42. Two quick passes by Pike bring up third and 1 from the Illinois 49. Interesting call there. The shovel pass to Guidugli. UC doesn't run the shovel pass to its tight ends. Usually to a wide receiver or running back. Pead misses a block on Clay Nurse, and Pike takes his first hit of the game. The play was incomplete to Binns. Well, they're reviewing it now.
Looks like his left foot landed before his right foot went out of bounds. Looks like it'll be a first down for UC. Yep, it is. Incompletion is overturned.
Ball is on the Illinois 18. Sam Griffin called for the false start. Then, D.J. Woods. First and 20 now. Perhaps the Illini should think about covering Guidugli. A 22-yard pass to him makes it first and goal from the 6. That's four catches for 102 yards. After the pump fake, Pike finds Woods in the back of the end zone for the 6-yard TD pass.
Or not. Under review
. The play happened right in front of the backjudge. Hard to tell if he was bobbling it. It's confirmed.
TD is good.
UC 21, Illinois 7 (1:50 to go)
On third and eight, Juice tries the option keeper. It doesn't fool Demetrius Jones who tackles him after a one-yard gain. Three and out.
UC will start at the Illini 47. More good field position. Third false start of the quarter. This time, it's Guidugli. That shouldn't be happening for a home game.
In the first quarter, the Bearcats ran the ball exactly once. Just one time for minus-5 yards. Interesting.
This is unbelievable. First Pike hits Guidugli for a 40-yard gain to bring it to the 2-yard line. Then, on the play-action, he finds Guidugli in the back of the end zone for the 2-yard TD pass
UC 28, Illinois 7 (14:28 to go)
Wow, really nice catch by Benn. He turned around, the ball was in his face and he caught it for a 43-yard gain. Ball on the UC 24. A couple runs brings up third and five on the 19. Juice to Duvalt for the 19-yard TD.
The problem there was that Dominique Battle came off the edge on a corner blitz, and he let Duvalt go by. Aaron Webster was supposed to pick him up, but he didn't get there in time. Nice pass from Juice to a wide-open Duvalt, and Battle never got near either.
UC 28, Illinois 14 (11:21 to go)
Another strong kickoff return by Mardy Gilyard. He takes it 41 yards and UC will start on its 46. UC tries its second run of the day, and Pead is knocked back for no gain. Maybe Guidugli should run the ball. It'll be third and five from the Illinois 49. PIke to Gilyard but he's short by a few inches. Shotgun, Pike scrambles and finds Pead, who promptly drops the ball. Turnover on downs.
Illinois to start on its own 44. Benn on the reverse runs a long way to gain five yards to the 50. On the last two plays, the Illini have gone outside the tackles and gained a total of 13 yards. Better success there than running between the tackles. Drew Frey is down. Looks like he went helmet to helmet with Eddie McGee and got the worst of it. And now Daniel Dufrene runs up the middle for 15 yards. After Juice hits Duvalt for the first down, Benn is called for the personal foul. Ball is back to the UC 23. It'll be third and nine from the 22. Juice has a little too much, uh, juice on his pass to Duvalt. Incomplete. Derek Dimke on for the 39-yard FG, and it's good.
Still, as Marvin Lewis would say, Benn's selfish penalty cost the Illini.
UC 28, Illinois 17 (6:01 to go)
UC starts at the 46. The Bearcats still haven't begun a drive inside their 40-yard line. Gilyard almost made a fantastic catch on a Pike pass but, at the last second, LB Ian Thomas breaks it up. Pike looks for Guidugli again, but the pass is out of his reach. Pike to John Goebel, and it'll be fourth and 1. UC will go for it, and Pead is not in the game. Pike hits Gilyard for the first down. Pike to Woods for 18-yard gain. Ball is on the Illinois 11. That looked pretty easy. Pike to Gilyard for 11-yard TD. Zach who?
UC 35, Illinois 17 (4:04 to go)
Without Drew Frey in the game, Wes Richardson is at the free safety spot. After a Juice rush, it'll be third and three from the UC 49. Juice on a late-breaking option play pitches to Justin Green who's met at the first-down marker by Richardson. Officials will measure. About a link or two short. Illini, of course, will go for it. Ford doesn't gain much, but it's enough. Now, it'll be third and 13 from the UC 48. 58 seconds to go and Illinois takes a timeout. Juice to Mikel Leshoure for the seven-yard gain. Fourth and 6 from the 41, but the clock is still running. Again, Juice to Leshoure for the first. Five seconds to go and the ball at the 31. Dimke will attempt a 48-yard FG as the clock expires. And. It. Just. Sneaks. Over. The. Goal. Post.
UC 35, Illinois 20 (half)
BTW, Mardy Gilyard, with that last score, breaks the school record for career TD catches.
According to Tommy G., Drew Frey is done for the day with a head injury.
After a first down, Leshoure is crushed for a four-yard loss. After a holding call, it'll be second and 24 from the Illinois 21. Incomplete pass. Juice scrambles, but he'll be well short of the first down. Illinois to punt.
UC with its worst staring position of the day. At its own 25. Third and 2 from the 33. Handoff to Pead loses a yard and somebody boos. Are you kidding me?
Yikes, Duvalt was wide open (and when I say wide open, there was nobody within 10 yards of him) for what could have been a 73-yard TD catch. But Duvalt can't handle the pass. It'll be third and nine at the Illinois 28. Big pressure by Dan Giordano and Juice is complete. The Illini to punt.
Pike nearly intercepted by Tavon Wilson on that one. Then a drop by Binns makes it third and 10 from the 36. Pike to Binns will be a few yards short, and UC will punt again. In less than four minutes, there have been four different drives.
Suddenly, everybody is conservative on offense. Two runs for Illinois and it'll be third and six from the 16. Andre Revels breaks up a juice pass, and the Illini will have to punt. In the last 4:07, there have been five changes of possession with four 3-and-outs. Scintillating stuff.
And there's some excitement. Pike to Gilyard for a 45-yard gain. Great job by Gilyard who never gave an indication to the CB that the ball was coming his way. First and goal from the 5. Coming off the timeout, Binns forgot to come out on the field. Pike has to wati. Incomplete because of pressure from DB Garrett Edwards. Two incompletions from Pike. Third and goal. Trickeration. Pike to Woods, who laterals it to Goebel. It gains a yard, but the Illini are hit with a late hit penalty. First and goal from the 2. Colin Lozier - a redshirt freshman FB - is called for the false start. Pike to Woods loses two yards. It'll be third and goal from the 9. Pike threads the needle and hits Binns for the 10-yard TD. That's five on the day for Pike and ties a school record for TDs in a game with Gino Guidugli.
UC 42, Illinois 20 (4:43 to go)
Leshoure takes the carry, and he stays on the ground. He's lying next to Alex Daniels. His right leg is being flexed by trainer Bob Mangine. He's up, and he runs off the field. It'll be third and six from the UC 47. A run, and Illinois will punt. Mardy Gilyard muffs the punt, and Illinois recovers on the UC 12 yard line
. Illinois runs up the middle twice, and it loses them a combined a 1-yard line. Nice defense by the Bearcats. Juice is incomplete. Dimke to attempt a 30-yard FG, and it's good.
Wasted opportunity for Illinois to really cut into this lead.
UC 42, Illinois 23 (1:38 to go)
Pike nearly picked again. Looked like it should be reviewed, and it will be. To the naked eye, it looked like Terry Hawthorne intercepted it. We shall see. OK, review confirms it was incomplete. Third and 10 from the 35. Pike's pass is complete to Woods, but he's about a yard short. UC will punt.
As Juice completes a 12-yard pass to Duvalt, the third quarter ends.
The official attendance is 35,106 - another school record. I'm convinced we've seen larger crowds, though.
A 19-yard run by Juice. On third and two, the Illini hand off to Green, and John Hughes makes him lose two yards. Option pitch to Green gains nine yards. Juice to Jarred Fayson for the first down. First and 10 from the 21. Juice incomplete to Fayson, but Battle is called for pass interference. I actually think that might have been a TD catch. Instead, it's first and goal from the 6. Dufrene gains a yard. Dufrene again, and he gains three yards to the 2. Juice with the option keeper sneaks into the end zone for a 2-yard TD.
Illinois just keeps hanging around.
UC 42, Illinois 30 (10:03 to go)
UC struggling with kick returns. Darrin Williams just muffed one, and UC starts at the 19. Guiugli absolutely tagged by Tavon Wilson on his five-yard catch. A run by Goebel brings up third and 1 from the 28. Pike to Binns for the first down. UC gets into positive rushing yards, and the crowd cheers. Pike drops the snap and he has to fall on it. Back to minus-1 rushing. Pike to Woods on the inside screen for the first down. The ball at the Illinois 46. Pike to Kazeem Alli for the first down. Goebel gains two, and UC is back to positive yardage. Crowd cheers. Pike for a short gain, and it'll be third and 5 from the 30. Pike, on the inside screen, gets a first down. Sure, just make a one-hand catch. That's what Gilyard just did on a 21-yard post route TD.
He couldn't have looked any more casual doing that. OK, under review
. Looks like this might come back. Not sure he had control. Apparently, that's not what the replay officials saw. TD is good
. That's a new record for passing TDs in a game with six. Pike is 32 of 46 for 399 yards and six TDs.
UC 49, Illinois 30 (4:19 to go)
Juice to Fayson for a 55-yard completion. Ball is at the UC 25. 14 yards to Duvalt brings the ball to the 11. Juice, under pressure, throws incomplete. Third and six from the 7. Juice throws it between Revels' hands and into Sykes' grasp for the 7-yard TD
. Two-point conversion fails.The Illini are still alive, though.
UC 49, Illinois 36 (2:54 to go)
Onside kick hits Marcus Barnett, but Brad Jones recovers it. UC ball on the Illinois 40. Zach Collaros in the game.
He immediately rushes for three yards. Goebel takes the pitch and gains seven yards for the first down. This game is just about over. Collaros with the eight-yard gain for the first down. With the Illini out of timeouts, this game, I feel safe in saying, is done. Victory formation. Pike comes back in to kneel for the final time at Nippert Stadium.
UC 49, Illinois 36 (final)