Charlie Jones had a 100 yard kickoff return for the first touchdown of No. 18 in Iowa, and the Hawkeyes defeated Illinois 33:23 on Saturday.
Iowa (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) was 10-0 behind in the first quarter when Jones kicked near the right corner of the end zone and ran through a hole on the left for the score.
Iowa wide receiver Arland Bruce IV had a 2-yard run for a touchdown and Caleb Shudak kicked four field goals, including a 51-yarder in the second quarter. Linebacker Jack Campbell’s 32 yard interception return for a touchdown at 1:36 to play closed the Hawkeyes standings.
Illinois’s Brandon Peters threw a 13-yard touchdown pass at Luke Ford to end a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:23 to start the game. But the Illinois (4-7, 3-5) only had 9 yards in 10 games in their next three ball possession.
James McCourt had three field goals for the Illinois.
Tyler Goodson ran 132 yards for the Hawkeyes, his third 100-yard game of the season. Alex Padilla, who made his second start, was only 6 out of 17 for 83 yards.
Peters, who threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams in the final seconds, was 16 of 36 for 248 yards. Illinois’ Chase Brown, averaging 106.4 yards per game, was held to 42 yards on 13 carries.
Iowa extended its winning streak against the Illinois to eight games. The Hawkeyes have won 13 of the last 14 in the series.
Illinois played without head coach Bret Bielema, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Co-head coach George McDonald was interim head coach.
Iowa’s defenseman Henry Marchese was greeted not only by his parents during the Senior Day ceremony before the game. Marcheses twin brother Michael, a senior tight end for Illinois, was there too. The two hugged to loud applause from the crowd.
Henry Marchese, who plays on special teams, had a key pad when Jones returned to the kickoff.
Iowa’s conservative offensive drew intermittent boos from home fans, particularly a second-quarter possession within the Illinois Territory when the Hawkeyes played three consecutive games for minus 4 yards, resulting in a Shudak field goal. Still, Iowa stayed in the Big Ten West Division title race before the final weekend of the season.
The Hawkeyes, who have been in the leaderboard all season, are likely to hold their position with the win.
Illinois: hosted Northwestern on Saturday.
Iowa: Visit Nebraska on Friday.