Chappell leads Indiana past Illinois 27-14
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP)—Ben Chappell’s career night helped Indiana end its losing streak—and maybe save its bowl hopes.
The junior quarterback threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs, leading Indiana past Illinois 27-14 and stopping the Fighting Illini’s recent domination of this series.
Indiana (4-3, 1-2) ended its three-game losing streak and a five-game skid in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers need two wins to become bowl-eligible.
Chappell was 23 of 38 and converted two second-half fumbles by Juice Williams into scores that helped Indiana seal the outcome.
Illinois (1-5, 0-4) lost its fourth straight despite putting Williams back in the starting lineup at quarterback. He was 22 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdowns, but the lost fumbles were crucial.
The Illini have lost five straight conference road games, dating to October 2008 at Michigan.
They also lost safety Donsay Hardeman in the first half when he was hurt while trying to make a tackle. The senior was placed on a backboard and carted off the field, then taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure because of his previous injury history. Late last year, Hardeman needed neck surgery to repair cracked vertebrae.
A school spokeswoman said Hardeman could move his arms and legs.
After missing two makable field goals in the first quarter, the Hoosiers finally took a 3-0 lead on Nick Freeland’s 35-yard field goal with 8:01 left in the half. It was the first time Indiana had led in more than 144 minutes of play, dating to late in the Michigan game Sept. 26.
It didn’t last long.
Williams hooked up with A.J. Jenkins for a 30-yard TD catch on the ensuing series to make it 7-3.
Indiana, however, closed the half with a strong flurry.
Chappell threw a 29-yard TD pass to Damarlo Belcher with 55 seconds left. After Indiana forced a three-and-out, Chappell took his team 38 yards in six plays to set up Freeland’s 37-yard field goal as time expired. That made it 13-7.
In the second half, Chappell continued taking advantage of Illinois miscues.
With Illinois trailing 13-7 late in the third quarter, Williams lost the ball at the Hoosiers 6. Ray Fisher recovered and ran it back 26 yards to the Indiana 32. Five plays later, receiver Tandon Doss beat the Illinois secondary by two steps, and Chappell put a perfect 44-yard TD strike on Doss fingertips to make it 20-7.
Then Williams fumbled deep in his own territory, and when Chappell hooked up with Troy Wagner for a 13-yard score, the Hoosiers led 27-7 with 10:48 left.
Jeff Cumberland caught a 3-yard pass from Williams for the final margin.