The ninth-ranked Chattanooga Mocs football team fell behind early and failed on a pair of redzone opportunities in route to a 31-0 blanking at Big Ten-member Illinois in front of 37,579 fans for the first Thursday night game in Memorial Stadium history.
Following the loss, Chattanooga moves to 3-1 (1-0 SoCon) on the year. Illinois improves to 3-1 (0-1 Big Ten) after picking up the win in the first ever meeting between the two schools.
"Yeah, and we helped them [Illinois] out a little bit along the way, but yeah, the kids played hard. No one can blame anyone else other than me on this one," said head coach Rusty Wright following the game.
"I didn't help the kids out. We just didn't give our coaches enough time to prepare, and there were some things that we could have taken advantage of, but we didn't."
After forcing Chattanooga into a three-and-out, Illinois marched 64 yards down the field in just five plays and capped it off with a nine-yard touchdown run from Chase Brown to take an early 7-0 (12:15) lead. Later in the first, Quay Wiggles came up with a crucial third-down stop to hold Illinois to a 34-yard field goal with 2:39 to make it 10-0.
Ailym Ford got the offense moving in the second quarter with back-to-back runs of nine and 39 yards to put UTC with a fresh set of downs at the Illini 16. However, the first down pass from Preston Hutchinson was picked off in the endzone which allowed Illinois to takeover at its own 20 with 12:16 left in the half.
The Illini took advantage of the turnover and went all 80 yards in nine plays and took just 3:02 off the clock to extend the lead to 17-0 (9:14). Illinois continued to move on offense and entered the halftime break with a 24-0 lead after a 17-yard touchdown connection from Tommy Devito to Pay Bryant (5:52).
Chattanooga forced Illinois to punt on the opening drive of the second half and later saw Ford break off a 32-yard run on first down, reaching all the way to the Illini 20. After a loss of six and a pair of no gains, Andrew Southard failed to connect on a 43-yard field goal attempt and UTC came up empty in the redzone for the second time.
Illinois found the endzone again with 4:56 left in the third when Isaiah Williams caught a dump pass and went 63 yards to the house go ahead 31-0. It was a scoreless draw the rest of the way as the teams combined to punt eight times, four each, in the second half.
BY THE NUMBERS
QB – Preston Hutchinson – 6-of-18, 49 yards, 2 INT
RB – Ailym Ford – 17 carries, 93 yards
WR – Tyron Arnett – 3 receptions, 32 yards
DT – Devonnsha Maxwell – 4 tackles, 2.0 sacks, QBH
CB – Kenneth Dicks III – 7 tackles, 3 solo
LB – Kam Jones – 7 tackles, 2 solo
TOTAL OFFENSE – ILL: 502, UTC: 142
PASS – ILL: 335, UTC: 49
RUSH – ILL: 167, UTC: 93
RECORDS – Chattanooga (3-1, 1-0 SoCon) – Illinois (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
SERIES – Illinois now leads the series 1-0 after tonight's initial meeting between the two programs.