Recap: Penn State vs. Illinois
University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Kyle Carter's 15-yard touchdown reception in overtime was the difference in Penn State's 24-17 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini in Big Ten Conference play at Beaver Stadium.
Bill Belton ran for 201 yards and a touchdown for the Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten), who improved to 6-0 in games following a loss under coach Bill O'Brien. Christian Hackenberg completed 20-of-32 passes for 240 yards and that deciding TD to Carter, while Allen Robinson finished with 165 yards on 11 catches.
Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 321 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions on 33-of-52 passing for the Fighting Illini (3-5, 0-4), who have now dropped four in a row. Josh Ferguson went over 100 total yards and had one touchdown rushing and one receiving, while Spencer Harris tallied 81 yards on 10 receptions.
Belton got the scoring started with a five-yard touchdown run on Penn State's first possession.
Hackenberg's nine-yard touchdown run at the 13:13 mark of the second quarter made it a 14-0 game and capped a 17-play, 82-yard drive that lasted more than seven minutes. However, the Nittany Lions offense largely sputtered the rest of the way, while Illinois climbed its way back into contention.
The Fighting Illini got on the scoreboard with a 21-yard field goal from Taylor Zalewski as time expired in the first half. The offense traveled 96 yards in 12 plays and just under three minutes to set up the field goal.
An eight-yard touchdown run by Ferguson represented the only scoring of the third quarter, as the Illini went into the final frame trailing, 14-10.
Illinois took the lead on Scheelhaase's seven-yard touchdown pass to Ferguson at the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter, capping another long drive that covered 77 yards on 13 plays.
PSU had a chance to take the lead late in regulation but Belton lost a fumble near the goal line. The Nittany Lions defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back to the offense with 1:44 on the clock. Hackenberg drove the team 31 yards in six plays to set up a 35-yard field goal by Sam Ficken with 41 seconds left to force overtime.
The Nittany Lions capitalized on the opening possession of the extra possession as Hackenberg found Carter in the end zone on 3rd-and-11. PSU safety Ryan Keiser then sealed the outcome with an interception in the end zone on the Illini's first play.
Penn State enjoyed a nearly 10-minute edge in time of possession thanks largely to Belton and the ground game.Game Notes