In an intrasquad scrimmage with bragging rights and positions for the fall on the line, the Illinois football team saw another blowout at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Blue team dominated the Orange team in the Orange and Blue Spring Game and led the entire game en route to a 38-7 victory.
Reilly O’Toole led the Blue team with 12-of-17 passing for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while the Orange team couldn’t sustain any consistency.
O’Toole started for the Blue team and recorded two touchdowns in three first quarter possessions to give Blue an early lead. On the opening drive, the Blue team went 73 yards in 15 plays, culminating in a 10-yard touchdown from O’Toole to Kevin Carroll.
On the Orange team’s first possession, quarterback Aaron Bailey threw an incompletion on his first play before fumbling on a handoff exchange with running back Josh Ferguson and Blue recovered at the Orange 27-yard line.
Three plays later, O’Toole hit Justin Hardee on a seam route for a 25-yard touchdown to put Blue up 14-0 with 7:51 remaining in the first quarter.
The Orange team, despite having top running backs Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young as well as dual-threat quarterback Bailey, couldn’t get the ground game going. The squad finished with 69 yards rushing on 41 carries, an abysmal 1.7 yards per carry. Four sacks mitigated the statistics, but Young had 15 carries for a total of two yards.
“The tough thing about this game is that we only had 11 offensive linemen, so they had to play the whole game,” head coach Tim Beckman said. “My question is: Did the No. 1 offensive tackle make the No. 2 offensive guard better?”
Another turnover would hurt the Orange team’s chances when driving in the second quarter. After a Wes Lunt interception gave Blue the ball at the Orange 46-yard line, reserve quarterback Chayce Crouch drove the team into the red zone, including a 4th-and-6 conversion. On a 3rd-and-13 from the Blue 19-yard line, Crouch threw behind his receiver on an in-route and cornerback V’Angelo Bentley picked it off and took it 89 yards back the other way for a touchdown.
The Orange team would never threaten again.
“Two turnovers changed that game like this,” Beckman said with a snap of his fingers. “The Blue team was able to capitalize on that and the Orange team wasn’t able to make those plays.”
O’Toole played the whole first quarter before being relieved by Wes Lunt, who had an inauspicious start to his Illini career.
Lunt was intercepted on his second throw and finished the contest 6-for-16 for 99 yards with the one interception.
Peter Bonahoom led all receivers with seven catches and 95 yards for the Blue team, while his teammate Justin Hardee chipped in five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Stephen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @steve_bourbon.