If you don’t believe in miracles then I really hope you didn’t watch the Illini football game on Saturday.
In case you didn’t see it the Illini trailed Michigan State 28-3 just before half before a hail mary got the Illini with in 18 points at half time.
Michigan State kicked a field goal to put the Spartans up 31-10 which is where the score stayed going into the fourth quarter.
And that is where it got wild. The Illini scored on the first play of the quarter on a 81-yard touchdown pass to Josh Imatorbhebhe to cut the Spartans lead to 14. The Illini got a stop and scored again on a Reggie Corbin touchdown to cut the lead to 31-24. Both teams turned the ball over on their next possession. Michigan State had the ball right around mid-field on a third in ten when one of the biggest plays in Illini football history happened. The Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke stepped back and fired a pass that was intercepted by Sydney Brown. Brown then veered toward the sideline and took it all the way to the house to cut the lead to 31-30. As if the game needed any more dramatics the score stayed at 31-30 when James McCourt missed the extra point. The Spartans then kicked a field goal making the score 34-30 Michigan State with just over three minutes remaining. The Illini had a few first downs before a couple of disastrous plays brought up a fourth and 18 with the game on the line. The man who started the comeback kept it alive when Imatorbhebhe snagged a jump ball to give the Illini new life.
But once again the Illini faced a fourth down this time on the goal-line. Illini quarterback Brandon Peters floated a ball to the back corner of the end zone and the pass fell incomplete. Ball game over right? Wrong, there was pass interference on the play giving the Illini once again new life. After two failed attempts at a score the Illini were facing a third down with the clock running out. Peters rolled to the sideline and flicked a pass to Daniel Barker in the back of the end zone to give Illinois the 37-34 comeback which is now the biggest comeback in Illinois football history.
If you watched that game at home you were probably running around and trying to find ways to continue breathing. Now just imagine what it would be like to be at the stadium in East Lansing.
Fortunately for me I don’t have to imagine because I was there. I drove the four and a half hours on Saturday morning to watch the Illini have a chance to go to a bowl game for the first time in five years.
All my life I have been going to games and I have had the pleasure of seeing some incredible games in my life. But nothing has ever compared to what I witnessed on Saturday. The scene in the corner of the end zone where we were sitting with the rest of the Illini fans is something that I will never forget.
For years we have been asking to just go to a bowl game and now that is happening. I can’t think of a better way to become bowl eligible than that game on Saturday.
I still don’t exactly know how it happened but it did. My heart rate is finally back to a normal rate and the Illini are going bowling, and there is not a whole lot more you can ask for than that. I-L-L.