STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — For the first time in a long time, Illinois was competitive in a Big Ten game for 60 minutes. But more than that was required in this game.
Christian Hackenberg’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Carter on the first drive of overtime gave Penn State a 24-17 lead that turned into victory when Nathan Scheelhaase was intercepted on the Illini’s first play of OT.
The loss extended Illinois’ Big Ten losing streak to 18 and kept coach Tim Beckman winless in conference play.
A 35-yard field goal by Penn State’s Sam Ficken with 41 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime tied 17-17.
A holding penalty on Michael Heitz stunted the Illini’s promising first drive, which resulted in a Scheelhaase interception. Then on Penn State’s subsequent possession, an illegal hands to the face penalty on Jonathan Brown on third down prolonged the Nittany Lions’ drive on their way to a touchdown. An Illini touchdown pass to Spencer Harris was called back because of an illegal chop block on Alex Hill.
At the end of the half, the Illini began on their own 2-yard-line, but drove the length of the field and faced first-and-goal from the 2. An illegal snap penalty forced them back to the 7 and caused them to use their final timeout to prevent a 30-second runoff.
On second down, Josh Ferguson was tackled inbounds and Scheelhaase could not get off the third-down play until a few seconds remained. Time ran out as Scheelhaase threw an incomplete pass, but a roughing the passer penalty bailed out Illinois. On the untimed down, coach Tim Beckman opted to kick the field goal.
After an Illini defensive stop to open the half, Scheelhaase drove the Illini down in 13 plays over 88 yards to score Illinois’ first touchdown and bring the Illini within 14-10. The drive ended with a Scheelhaase lateral to Josh Ferguson, who scored from eight yards out.
After another defensive stop, Scheelhaase hit Ferguson on a 7-yard TD pass for a 17-14 lead.