CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole led Illinois on a late drive that set up a game-winning David Reisner field goal, delivering a 16-14 win over Penn State on Saturday.
Reisner hit from 36 yards with eight seconds left on the clock. Minutes earlier he missed a 50-yarder that would have put Illinois on top.
O’Toole relieved an ineffective Wes Lunt late in the first half. O’Toole finished 18 of 25 for 157 yards and a touchdown for Illinois (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten).
Christian Hackenberg threw for an 18-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin to put Penn State (6-5, 2-5) up early. But struggled the rest of the day. He finished 7-15 for 72 yards and the touchdown.
Mike Dudek had 11 catches for 115 yards for Illinois.
Penn State running back Akeel Lynch carried the ball 28 times for 137 yards and a 47-yard touchdown.
O’Toole has started a handful of games in his four years on campus but most of that time he’s served as mop-up man.
Lunt, just seven weeks removed from a broken leg, didn’t look quite right in his second game back from the injury. The normally strong-armed quarterback didn’t throw deep much and, when he did, didn’t have the touch that made him one of the country’s most dangerous quarterbacks early this season. He also had trouble getting Illinois’ offense moving as quickly as it’s designed to, spending long periods between snaps reading Penn State’s defense and, after burning a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty, earning a loud earful from offensive coordinator Bill Cubit on the sidelines.
O’Toole, on the other hand, moved Illinois’ offense down the field fast. And when he hit tight end Matt LaCosse on the 1-yard, game-tying touchdown, it erased a half of offensive frustrations.
While O’Toole and Resiner starred, a stiff 19 mph wind played a supporting role Saturday.
It swept Reisner’s 50-yard miss wide left. But it also gave Illinois points early in the second half that put the Illini in the lead.
The kickoff to open the half was knocked down by the wind, falling down at about the Penn State 20. Illinois’ Clayton Fejdelem recovered at the Nittany Lion 28.
Four plays later Reisner kicked a 28-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead.
Reisner was 3-4 on field goals Saturday. Illinois had made just two on six attempts all season before Saturday.
Tied 7-7 at the half, the Nittany Lions had to be scratching their heads and asking, “How?”
Before O’Toole replaced Lunt on the final possession of the first half, Illinois had 45 yards of offense. Penn State had started its first three drives at its own 46 and 48 and the Illinois 49, all of them with a stiff wind at its back.
But the Nittany Lions turned those three short fields into just one score, Hackenberg strike to Godwin halfway through the first quarter.
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