John Paddock throws for 507 yards in Illini OT victory against Hoosiers

His 21-yard TD pass to Isaiah Williams in OT was the winner.

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John Paddock

Illinois quarterback John Paddock passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Indiana on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Champaign, Ill.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

By Steve Stein

Associated Press

John Paddock threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams in overtime to give Illinois a 48-45 win Saturday over Indiana in a Big Ten game.

After Indiana’s Chris Freeman kicked a 41-yard field goal in OT, Paddock scrambled to his right on third down and connected with Williams.

Paddock threw for 507 yards and four touchdowns in his first start for the Illini since transferring from Ball State. Replacing injured starter Luke Altmyer (concussion), Paddock completed 24 of 36 passes.

Only Shedeur Sanders, with 510 yards on Sept. 2 vs. TCU, has thrown for more yards in a game this season than Paddock, whose uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather played for Illinois.

“We thought Luke would be cleared to play, but by midweek, we could see it wasn’t going to happen,” said Illinois coach Bret Bielema. “He’s cleared now. Do we have a quarterback controversy? No, I think we have two good quarterbacks.”

Paddock’s 507 yards is the second-highest single-game total in Illini history and the most by any player at Memorial Stadium. Only Dave Wilson (621 on Nov. 8, 1980, at Ohio State) threw for more.

Williams, the Big Ten’s leading receiver, had nine catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.

Pat Bryant had five catches for 131 yards and a touchdown for the Ilini (5-5, 3-4) before being injured midway through the third quarter and Casey Washington had five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.

Reggie Love had 24 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns for Illinois, which ended a four-game losing streak to the Hoosiers that dated to 2012.

“Great late-game win,” Love said. “We did what we practiced all week.”

Brendan Sorsby was 22 for 33 passing for 289 yards and three touchdowns — he also ran for two touchdowns — and Donaven McCulley caught 11 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns for Indiana (3-7, 1-5), which led 27-12 in the second quarter.

Indiana tied the game at 42-42 with 28 seconds left in regulation on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sorsby to DeQuece Carter and a two-point conversion pass from Sorsby to E.J. Williams Jr.

“What a tough way to lose,” said Indiana coach Tom Allen, his hoarse voice barely audible. “I’m shocked they were able to pass so well against us. We prepared for both quarterbacks. The problem was we didn’t put any pressure on (Paddock) and he had a career day,”

It was a penalty-filled, chippy game. Illinois was penalized 14 times for 139 yards and had a player ejected for spitting on an Indiana player, and the Hoosiers had seven penalties for 80 yards.

“A lot of the chippiness goes back to last year when we played Indiana at their place,” Bielema said. “Our locker room was 100 degrees and there were a lot of other rinky-dink things they did to us. This was a nice rivalry game.”

After trailing 27-26 at halftime, Illinois took a 33-27 lead on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Paddock to Williams in the third quarter.

The Illini padded their lead in the fourth quarter on a 37-yard touchdown run by Love, but Indiana responded with a 5-yard touchdown run by Sorsby before Illinois’ Caleb Griffin kicked a 21-yard field goal.

THE TAKEAWAY

The Illini still have a chance to go to a bowl game. They need to do no worse than split their final two games against Iowa and Northwestern. The loss eliminated Indiana from bowl eligibility.

LATE HEROICS

Four of Illinois’ five victories have been achieved by a final-minute score, including three walk-offs.

LOTS OF CATCHES

Williams has at least one catch in all 35 games since he switched from quarterback to receiver prior to the start of the 2021 season, and he’s caught at least three passes in 24 straight games. He’s No. 2 in Illinois history in career pass receptions with 200, trailing only College Football Hall of Famer David Williams, who had 262 catches from 1983-85.

ANOTHER BLOCK

Jer’Zhan Newton blocked an Indiana PAT attempt. It was the third blocked kick for the All-American defensive tackle, who came into Saturday’s game tied for the national lead. Newton has blocked two PAT attempts and a field goal try.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

Illinois is now 31-10-1 vs. Indiana in Champaign. The Illini lost the last two times they hosted Indiana, in 2012 and 2017.

UP NEXT

Indiana: The Hoosiers will play host to Michigan State next Saturday.

Illinois: The Illini will play at Iowa next Saturday for their last road game of the regular season.

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