Recap: Iowa football defeated by Illinois for the first time since 2008 in defensive battle

Raven Moore
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Though it was another standout showing by the Hawkeyes defense, Iowa finds itself on the losing end after falling to Illinois 9-6.

Offensively, the group struggled to sustain drives, despite tight end Sam LaPorta's best game of the season, where he caught nine catches for 107 yards.

Spencer Petras had a so-so night where he complete 18 of his 36 passing attempts for 170 yards but was also sacked five times.

Their defense did what it did best, which is keep teams out of the endzone and force turnovers.

They forced two on Saturday night, including an interception at Iowa's one-yard line by Quinn Schulte which prevented Illinois from scoring their first touchdown of the night.

End of the game

Despite the Hawkeyes' last-minute gasp, the Fighting Illini's defense held firm and stopped them from getting into field goal range.

Their stand brings Iowa's record to 3-3 heading into the bye week.

1:19/Q4 – Iowa's defense gives their offense a chance

After forcing Illinois into a three-and-out, Spencer Petras and Co. will have one final chance to tie or win the game with a little over a minute to go.

1:36/Q4 – Petras' interception possibly ices the game for Iowa

For the first time in three games, the Hawkeyes have committed a turnover, as it comes at the worst possible moment.

Trailing by three, Petras' pass deep downfield is intercepted by Illinois defensive back Matthew Bailey.

Unless Iowa's defense can create another turnover or force an early punt, their offense may not see the field again.

2:49/Q4 – Illinois takes the lead after fumble call is overturned

After a fumble recovery for a touchdown is overturned, the Fighting Illini kick and convert on a 36-yard field goal to take the 9-6 lead late in the fourth quarter.

3:00/Q4 ‒ Iowa's defense may have scored the first touchdown of the game

After getting back into the redzone, Illinois may have committed another costly turnover.

After a possible fumble from Sitkowski, it was returned for an 81-yard touchdown by Riley Moss. The play is currently under review.

9:56/Q4 ‒ Iowa's defense saves the day again

With Illinois knocking on the door of the endzone, Iowa shuts them after an interception at the one-yard line by defensive back Quinn Schulte.

Iowa goes three and out and punts the ball to Illinois' 45-yard line.

10:52/Q4 ‒ Illinois is inside the redzone

Showing that they are more than just a run team, the Fighting Illini have made their way into the red zone after multiple flashy receptions.

The latest was a 21-yard pass from Sitkowski to his wide receiver Jonah Morris that was taken all the way to Iowa's eight-yard line.

13:21/Q4 ‒ Iowa punts despite big gains on the ground

The Hawkeyes had their best rushing performance of the night on the drive, gaining 50 yards, but they could not do anything with it.

A screen pass from Petras to LaPorta lost eight yards to make it third and long. After an incompletion, the team again had punt.

On a positive note, Tory Taylor's punt is downed inside Illinois' 20-yard line.

End of the third quarter

The third comes to an end as neither team is able to impact the scoreboard.

However, the Hawkeyes look to have a chance to change that as they are currently at Illinois' 42-yard line.

That comes after three runs that have netted them double-digit yards.

2:24/Q3 ‒ Questionable play call costs the Fighting Illini a promising drive

After giving Iowa a heavy dose of Chase Brown, Illinois turned to the passing games in hopes of gaining more chunk plays.

Instead, a pass on 3rd and five goes five yards in the wrong direction, leading to Illinois having to punt.

Iowa will start the drive at their two-yard line.

6:02/Q3 ‒ Iowa avoids a three and out, but still is forced to punt

On a positive note, the Hawkeyes managed to get two first downs on the drive after key completions to LaPorta and Ragaini consecutively.

Unfortunately for them, they were unable to do much more than that, leading to another punt from Tory Taylor.

Illinois will begin their next drive at their own nine-yard line.

9:40/Q3 ‒ Iowa's defense ruins Illinois' good field position

Following Iowa's punt, Illinois was slated to start their drive at their own 45-yard line, which has been their best field position of the night to this point.

However, just as they have done for much of the night, the Hawkeyes' stingy defense did not let them do anything with it, forcing another three and out.

10:56/Q3 ‒ Sacks and penalties cost the Hawkeyes another drive

Iowa's offense continues to struggle.

On yet another drive, mistakes cost them the chance to take their first lead of the night.

First, they were called for a facemask penalty that turned 1st and 10 to 1st and 22. Then on 3rd and long, Petras was sacked for the first time, this time by Illinois' Seth Coleman.

The Fighting Illini will take over at their own 45-yard line.

13:26/Q3 ‒ Illinois goes three and out again

Artur Sitkowski remains the quarterback for Fighting Illinois to start the second quarter. However, he is unable to generate much offense.

Aside from a five-yard reception by Chase Brown to begin the drive, Illinois is unable to move the ball, forcing them to punt.

13:35/Q3 ‒ Iowa punts on their first drive of the second half

Spencer Petras is sacked for the third time tonight as the Hawkeyes' offense goes nowhere to kick off the third quarter.

End of the first half

A missed 45-yard field goal by Iowa kicker Drew Stevens caps off what was a promising final drive for the Hawkeyes.

They managed to gain 52 yards, all on passing plays to Nico Ragaini and Sam LaPorta.

Luckily, Iowa will receive the second-half kickoff with the chance to build on its momentum.

It's Sam LaPorta's world, we are just living in it

1:38/Q2 ‒ Illinois goes three and out

Illinois' offense stalls out again, causing them to punt late in the second quarter.

2:48/Q2 ‒ Iowa settles for a field goal to tie the game

Iowa is unable to capitalize on the great field position as penalties and wasted plays cost them.

The biggest blow was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Iowa that backed them up all the way to the 23-yard line.

Luckily, Drew Stevens converted on his 27-yard field goal try to tie the game at six.

4:16/Q2 ‒ Iowa's defense possibly bails out their offense

The Hawkeyes' offense may be making its way back on the field after a forced fumble from cornerback Riley Moss. It was recovered by his teammate Seth Benson.

Iowa will start their next drive at Illinois' five-yard line.

4:33/Q2 ‒ Iowa cannot make the most of good field position

Instead of using the momentum n their favor and finding a way to score, Iowa is forced to punt.

Aside from a five-yard reception by wide receiver Nico Ragaini, their other plays went backward or did not gain any yards.

That includes Petras taking a sack on the first play, a false start penalty, and two incomplete passes.

6:16/Q2 ‒ Iowa's special teams unit comes up big

Following a punt from Tory Taylor, Illinois' Isaiah Washington muffs the return, which is recovered by Iowa's Jack Campbell.

Iowa will take over at Illinois' 41-yard 35-yard line.

8:00/Q2 ‒ Illinois scores another field goal

Illinois has re-taken the lead after a 37-yard field goal from Fabrizio Pinton.

12:05/Q2 ‒ Iowa punts for the first time

After a punt from Illinois is downed at the two-yard line, the Hawkeyes had their work cut out for them on their second drive.

Kaleb Johnson had two rushes for six yards, but they were unable to convert on third down, leading to a punt from fan-favorite Tory Taylor.

Illinois will start their next drive at their own 44-yard line.

13:33/Q2 ‒ Illinois punts for the first time tonight

Despite a defensive holding penalty that helped Illinois to convert on third down, they were unable to capitalize and get into scoring range.

While that was disappointing, the bigger concern is for Tommy Devito who remains in the medical tent after it appears that he has suffered a leg injury.

End of the first quarter

At the end of the first quarter, The Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini are tied at 3.

Iowa's Spencer Petras has completed three of his five pass attempts for 60 yards. Sam LaPorta has been on the receiving end of all of those passes.

Once we return to action, Illinois will face 2nd and 10 at Iowa's 35-yard line.

0:47/Q1 ‒ Tommy Devito down for Illinois

After scrambling on 1st and 20, Illinois quarterback Tommy Devito struggled to stand back up, prompting an injury timeout to be called.

He has been replaced by quarterback Artur Sitkowski.

The severity of his injury is unknown.

3:51/Q1 ‒ Iowa tied the game after a Drew Stevens field goal

Relying heavily on the connection between Spencer Petras and Sam LaPorta, the Hawkeyes had a big opening drive themselves, taking the all the way to Illinois' seven-yard line.

However, their drive stalled out, which led to them taking the 32-yard field goal from Drew Stevens.

9:03/Q1 ‒ Illinois gets on the board first

After a long 17-play drive where they gained 66 yards, Illinois had to settle for a 27-yard field goal.

Iowa's defense held firm in the red zone, forcing three straight incompletions inside the nine-yard line.

10:30/Q1 ‒ Illinois driving downfield

The Fighting Illini have worked their way to the Hawkeyes' 22-yard line after a big drive where they have converted on two fourth down conversions in enemy territory.

Both were runs from quarterback Tommy Devito.

15:00/Q1 ‒ Illinois' offense will take the field first

For more information ahead of this pivotal B10 West matchup, be sure to check out the following works by Hawk Central's Chad Leistikow and Kennington Lloyd Smith III:

Check back here near game time for live updates, news and analysis.

Raven Moore covers high school sports for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. You can reach her at Follow her on Twitter at @Raven_XReport.