Recap: Defense, special teams carry Iowa football to 33-23 win over Illinois on senior day

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY — Man, does the college football season fly by. 

Here we are, already at the last game in Kinnick Stadium this season. No. 14 Iowa hosts Illinois at 1 p.m. on FS1. Sixteen senior Hawkeyes will be honored in a pregame ceremony.

Hawk Central will have you covered from pregame to postgame, with writers Kennington Smith, Chad Leistikow and Dargan Southard live inside Kinnick Stadium. Photographers Joseph Cress and Bryon Houlgrave are in Iowa City as well.

Follow along here for live updates, analysis and commentary throughout the day. 

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Postgame — Arland Bruce IV

On TD: "I was like I'm right here. Might as well get in the end zone."

On jet sweeps: "I love jet sweeps. I get open in space." 

On the offense: "We obviously left some things on the field, but that's what football is all about. Watching film and fixing your mistakes." 

Postgame — Tyler Goodson

On getting the run game going: "Feels good, gives us confidence going into the next week."

On o-line: "The guys up front did a good job getting to the guys they needed do."

On Arland Bruce: "He's a little bowling ball."   

On the season: "We know there's been missed opportunities for us, This season has just been phenomenal for us. The character on this team shows we can overcome those two losses." 

On this season: "It's all about character."

Postgame — Alex Padilla

On the day: "My stats don't matter as long as we get the win in the end."

On linemen: "All our guys up front did a great job all day." 

On Charlie Jones' TD: "It's electric. That's the best way to describe it. We needed that." 

On Arland Bruce: "He can do things with the football that not many other guys can do." 

FINAL — Iowa 33, Illinois 23

It was anything but pretty, yet here the Hawkeyes are at 9-2. Defense and special teams get the thumbs up today. 

0:31/4Q — Iowa 33, Illinois 23

Illinois with its best drive of the day with Iowa essentially in prevent. A 16-yard TD pass to Isaiah Williams is the Illini's first end-zone visit since the first quarter  

1:36/4Q — Iowa 33, Illinois 16

Jack Campbell with the pick-six that is very significant for some. Iowa has a touchdown in all three phases 

1:55/4Q — Iowa 26, Illinois 16

Fitting that Caleb Shudak likely wraps this one up with a 30-yard field goal. Tyler Goodson and Gavin Williams broke off some nice runs to get Iowa into the red zone, allowing clock to run and Illinois timeouts to be used. Hawkeyes just about have this one finished off.  

5:23/4Q — Illinois, though, does nothing with the turnover. 

Illini got into fourth-and-3, opted to punt, called timeout, then decided to go for it. It didn't work. Now Tyler Goodson rips off a 21-yard run shortly after. Iowa trying to find one more push down the stretch.  

7:02/4Q — But then Alex Padilla goes and throws it right back.

Interception deep down the visitor sideline gives Illinois the ball near midfield. Clocks ticks under seven minutes.  

8:02/4Q — As bad as Iowa's offense has been, Illinois has been just as unproductive. 

Four of the last six Illinois drives have produced negative yardage. The Illini have eight three-and-outs. Seven minutes left in Iowa City 

9:51/4Q — Iowa 23, Illinois 16

The Hawkeyes blow a grand opportunity to find the end zone after a slew of Illinois penalties. First-and-goal at the 8-yard line goes nowhere, and Caleb Shudak is called on again for a short field goal. He's 4-for-5 today kicking and has been Iowa's best offensive weapon. 

11:27/4Q — You heard that right, two unsportsmanlike penalties on Illinois

Two Illinois unsportsmanlike penalties on the punt give Iowa a massive break, with the ball going to the Illini 17-yard line. Those 30 yards of penalties account for only eight fewer yards than Iowa's had on its last three drives combined.  

13:33/4Q — This offense, yikes

The Hawkeyes have a combined 90 total yards on their last seven possessions. Four of those drives haven't even covered the length of one first down. Another good punt, though, has Illinois backed up once again. Iowa's defense is going to have to close this one down.    

END 3Q — Iowa 20, Illinois 16

Iowa's offense still not doing much, but its punt coverage and defense have been solid throughout. Illinois is backed up again as we start the fourth quarter, facing second down from its own 6-yard line.  

2:46/3Q — Iowa 20, Illinois 16

A 44-yard completion to Casey Washington set up the third Illinois field goal of the day. Scoring drive covers 5 plays, 45 yards, 1:55 time elapsed. Riley Moss got beat on the deep ball, but a nice recovery from the Iowa defense to force the three.  

4:41/3Q — Hawkeyes cross into Illinois territory, then hit a wall.

A 17-yard pass to Arland Bruce pushed the Hawkeyes past midfield, but the next three plays combine to lose two yards. Tory Taylor's punt goes into the end zone for a touchback. Illinois will have first-and-10 from the 20 when we return. 

7:01/3Q — Iowa's defense toughening up

Brandon Peters had nowhere to go and nowhere to throw on that last drive, as Joe Evans finishes things off with a sack deep in Illinois territory. Short return for Charlie Jones, who sets the Hawkeyes up at the 32-yard line. Timeout on the field. 

9:12/3Q — Iowa 20, Illinois 13

Hawkeyes chew up nearly six minutes to open the third quarter, moving into Illinois territory before sputtering just outside the red zone. Caleb Shudak cleans up the mess with a 48-yard field goal. He's 2-for-3 today. Scoring drive goes 11 plays, 42 yards, 5:48 time elapsed.

HALF — Iowa 17, Illinois 13

Ten combined plays were run in a final minute that just wouldn't end. Anyways, Iowa will get the ball out of the break with a chance to go back up two scores. 

Notable Iowa stat lines: Alex Padilla is 5-for-9 for 66 yards, with Arland Bruce as the leading receiver (1 catch for 28 yards). Tyler Goodson has 12 carries for 61 yards, but Bruce and Gavin Williams also both have 20-plus ground yards. 

0:38/2Q — Iowa does nothing with the INT.

Three and out, then Caleb Shudak comes up just short on a 56-yard field goal attempt. 

0:55/2Q — A big grab by Dane B.

Dane Belton has his fifth interception of the season, grabbing one just past midfield. Perhaps Illinois should've just gone to the half. First two Iowa plays, though, gain two yards. Iowa calls timeout before 3rd-and-8 from the Illinois 39. 

3:13/1Q — Iowa 17, Illinois 13

Iowa's defense recovers after the two long gains to force a James McCourt field goal. He hits again, this one from 45. Considering the over/under was around 38.5 total points, this is basically a shootout. 

5:00/2Q — Brandon Peters still exposing Iowa's secondary injuries.

Back-to-back long gains have Illinois knocking on the door for more points. A 20-yard hookup to Donny Navarro, then another 20-yard gain to Isaiah Williams keep the Illini moving.    

7:00/2Q — Iowa 17, Illinois 10

A questionable third-down call draws some groans from the crowd, as Gavin Williams runs for minimal gain on 3rd-and-12. Caleb Shudak rewards the conservative play calling with a 51-yard field goal. Scoring drive goes 11 plays, 58 yards, 6:26 time elapsed. 

14:08/2Q — Iowa 14, Illinois 10

Arland Bruce rewarded for the big catch with a 2-yard rushing TD on third down. Bruce met the defender at the goal line and trucked him for the score. Iowa's offense showing a pulse.   

END 1Q — Illinois 10, Iowa 7

A spectacular catch by Arland Bruce IV along the sideline will set Iowa up first-and-10 at the Illinois 8-yard line when we return. Great adjustment with the ball in the air and just got a foot in.   

3:05/1Q — Illinois 10, Iowa 7

Charlie Jones saves the day to push Iowa back within a score. A 100-yard kick return TD saw Jones dash left then scoot up the home sideline with several Illinois defenders desperately chasing. Hawkeyes get a big boost with what ties the school record for longest kick return. 

3:20/1Q — Illinois 10, Iowa 0

Iowa's defense limits the damage as much it can, holding Illinois to a 46-yard field goal from James McCourt. A mild win amid a terrible start for the Hawkeyes. Scoring drive goes 4 plays, 0 yards, 1:21 time elapsed. 

4:41/1Q — A promising drive sputters out, then disaster.

Iowa's opening drive was going well but hit a wall just inside Illinois territory. The Hawkeyes opted for a punt in plus territory, but the snap scoots under Tory Taylor's hands, ultimately, for a team rush of minus-29. Illinois nearly in the red zone again.   

8:37/1Q — Illinois 7, Iowa 0 

Brandon Peters carves up Iowa on the opening drive, going 6-for-7 for 68 yards and a 13-yard TD pass to Luke Ford.  12 plays, 75 yards, 6:23 time elapsed on the scoring drive. Iowa's thin secondary fails test  

1Q — We're underway

Illinois starts with the ball after Iowa wins the tos and defers. Illini have a good opening drive going, now deeper into Hawkeyes territory at the 28-yard line. Iowa has spent the bulk of this drive in its base defense, with Quinn Schulte coming in on third and long. Illinois moves this sticks again and has it at the Iowa 16. 

12:37 p.m. — Alex Padilla is Iowa's starting QB today. 

A QB controversy that really wasn't a controversy at all has seemingly been decided. Alex Padilla has been running with the 1s all pregame and was just announced as the starting QB on the jumbotron. Padilla will make his second consecutive start and third straight lengthy appearance. Spencer Petras is active and today's backup QB.     

12:36 p.m. — Illinois dealing with defensive losses too

12:28 p.m. — The hits keep on coming

Starting safety Jack Koerner is also out, per Iowa radio. That's two key secondary pieces absent from today's game. Offensive lineman Mason Richman is also out for today.  

As a result, it wouldn't be surprising to se Iowa spend much of today in its base defense. That would put Kaevon Merriweather and Dane Belton as the safeties, with Jestin Jacobs joining Seth Benson and Jack Campbell at linebacker. That's what Iowa showed during the initial portion of its team defense warmup.  

11:51 a.m. — Iowa secondary taking a hit today

Looks like Iowa will be without cornerback Matt Hankins, who's in sweats as the Hawkeyes go through pregame warmups. Kirk Ferentz all but ruled out Terry Roberts earlier in the week as well, which means today's starting corners are likely Riley Moss and Jermari Harris.  

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.