Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Controversial Play against Buckeyes Haunts Illini's Allen

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Controversial Play against Buckeyes Haunts Illini's Allen

Article excerpt

Derek Allen is having a fine season as the starting left guard on the Illinois football team. The offense has been rolling after a slow start, and the line is opening holes and protecting quarterback Johnny Johnson.

But Allen, a junior from Geneseo, Ill., remains haunted by a controversial play in the game against Ohio State on Oct. 9 in Champaign, Ill.

Despite a defensive effort that limited the Buckeyes to only 230 yards, Illinois lost 20-12 in Memorial Stadium.

The Illini trailed 17-12 in the fourth quarter. They faced a third-and-20 play from the Ohio State 33. Johnson dropped back to pass, came out of the pocket and began scrambling away from the rush.

Johnson spotted tight end Ken Dilger in the end zone. The pass was true. The catch was made. Touchdown! Illinois had the lead. Less than seven minutes remained.

"The touchdown was called, and, in my mind, that was the end of the game," Allen said. "I knew our defense would hold them."

Allen sprinted toward the end zone and was about to take part in the celebration when he saw a flag thrown behind him.

His heart, pounding furiously, sank. He knew that the call probably was an ineligible man down field.

"Right when it was called, I was really astounded," Allen said. "The TD was there, but I was also down field."

Not by much, mind you. Coach Lou Tepper said Allen couldn't have been any more than 3 feet past the line of scrimmage when the ball was thrown. Johnson, angered that yet another crucial call had gone against Illinois, said, "They can't make that call in that situation. We've had too many bad calls go against us in this stadium."

That call looms large now with three games remaining on the Big Ten Conference schedule. Ohio State is 5-0. Illinois is 4-1. If both teams win the remainder of their games, the loss to Ohio State would keep Illinois out of the Rose Bowl and put the Buckeyes in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year's Day.

"The coaches told me that there wasn't anything I could do about it," Allen said. "Everybody else on the line was on a block. I was free. Johnny was scrambling."

Considering Allen wasn't way down the field and considering he wasn't even in on the play, one has to wonder about the common sense of the call. …

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