Champaign, Illinois – Noah Federal threw for 138 yards and rushed to the touchdown to lead Rutgers to overtake Illinois 20-14 on Saturday.
Isai Pacheco lunged 21 times for 91 yards and Kyle Munangai ran 15 times for 77 yards and touched down for Rutgers (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten).
Brandon Peters, who started with injured Art Sitkowski, had 14 of 19 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns for Illinois (3-6, 2-4), including a 52-yard TD pass to Isaiah Williams. Williams picked up 3 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Parker picked up two passes for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Chase Brown carried 18 times for 67 yards for Eleni.
Illinois only managed 107 yards on the ground against Rutgers after taking 357 last week in a stunning 9-over-number win. 7 Pennsylvania.
“I thought today was huge,” Rutgers coach Greg Chiano said. “After a team that ran the ball so well a week ago, being able to stop the run was massive.”
Chiano said he saw an improvement in his defense.
“If you can be a great tackler, you can play a great defense,” he said. “We weren’t playing great today, but we were a lot better than we were a week ago, and that should continue to improve.”
Rutgers put the match away in the second half. Federal ran it from 15 yards early in the fourth quarter to give the Crimson Knights a 17-14 lead. Valentino Ambrosio kicked a field goal from 25 yards with 3:58 left in the game to make the score 20-14.
Illinois weren’t able to muster much of the attack in the second half after leading 14-10 in the first half.
“It’s very frustrating,” Illinois coach Brett Bilima said. “We can’t play a four-way match at home for some reason. And that’s my one hundred percent responsibility. We went out in the second half and laid an egg. My fault.”
Rutgers quartet Federer left the game early in the first quarter with an unspecified injury and was replaced by Cole Snyder. Federal returned in the middle of the second quarter after spending several minutes in the injury tent.
Rutgers scored his first goal at 7 yards carried out by Monangai which culminated in a 10-play distance and 61 yards that saw three personal penalty kicks resulting from a brief altercation between the players.
Illinois scored with 10:13 left in the first half on a 52-yard pass from Peters to Williams to make it 7-7.
“I thought BP (Peters) had their best week of preparing for the year last week,” Belima said. “But that is all lost in defeat, unfortunately.”
The Scarlet Knights led 10-7 with a 5:42 left in the half on a 35-yard field goal by Ambrosia.