Fake Punt Helps Lift Louisville by Illini

By Nick Wishart Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 14, 1997 | Go to article overview

Fake Punt Helps Lift Louisville by Illini


Nick Wishart Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


It held so much promise from the word go. Opening drive, touchdown on the ground. High fives and fists in the air on the Illinois sideline. Could this be the day?

Maybe.

A few minutes later, an on-side kick told everyone the Illini meant business. Louisville held off that charge and came back with a touchdown but Illinois soon struck again, this time on a reverse that looked easy. More high fives. More raised fists. This has to be the day. No way. After giving up only seven first-quarter points Saturday at Cardinal Stadium and a special teams touchdown in the second period, Illinois lost this one on a trick play late in the game. Louisville (1-2) won 26-14 in front of a near capacity home crowd of 36,824 and everyone in the 0-2 Illinois contingent, from players and coaches to team managers and families, left with a frown. Losing is no fun, they said, especially after getting so close. "We've got to play smart," Illinois coach Ron Turner said. "We can't turn the ball over and make mistakes or we won't beat anybody. It's not enough to play hard or with intensity. We have to be a mistake free team to beat anybody. We haven't learned to finish yet." In the second half, Illinois senior tailback Robert Holcombe fumbled on two consecutive carries. He carried 40 times for 165 yards and a TD on 40 carries and made no excuses. His first miscue was inside Louisville's 20-yard line. But Illinois was cooked by the trick play. After it stopped the Cardinals on the Illini 38 with the game knotted 14-14, out came the punting unit. But instead of blasting the ball off his foot, Louisville punter Jeremy Borseth pitched it forward to linebacker Jason Wyatt, who ran 25 yards. A few plays later, local hero Chris Redman passed to his old high school teammate Ibn Green for a 20-yard touchdown, capping a 98-yard drive. Redman, a sophomore, completed 19 of 28 passes for 324 yards in the game. Three plays later, Illinois punted only to watch Louisville score again on a 63-yard scamper by Green. "We had a lot of momentum but that hurt us," Holcombe said. "We didn't do a lot of things today. When you turn the ball over you don't win football games. They played well enough to win. This is one we let get away from us. …

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