Connect with us


Illinois Football: The Legend of John Paddock



Illinois football
Nov 11, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Isaiah Williams (1) outruns Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Jamari Sharpe (22) to score a touchdown in overtime to defeat the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

John Paddock leads the Illini to an overtime victory against Indiana.

The Paddock/Williams combination worked again this week as the Illini defeated the Hoosiers 48-45 at Memorial Stadium this afternoon. The Ball State transfer connected with Williams on a 21-yard touchdown pass in overtime to give Illinois the victory. Last week, the two connected on a 46-yard game-winner to defeat Minnesota.

Indiana kicker Chris Freeman gave the Hoosiers the lead after the first overtime with a 41-yard field goal.

Paddock’s right arm led the Illini defense this afternoon, throwing for 507 yards. Only Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders has more passing yards this season. The Illini receiving corps had its best day. Isaiah Williams and Pat Bryant had over 100 receiving yards. Casey Washington chipped in 99 yards receiving.

Head coach Brett Bielema put any talk of a quarterback controversy to rest in his postgame press conference. “We thought Luke would be cleared to play, but by midweek, we could see it wasn’t going to happen,” Bielema said. “He’s cleared now. Do we have a quarterback controversy? No, I think we have two good quarterbacks.”

The Illini ran the football effectively. Freshman sensation Kaden Feagin left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. However, Reggie Love returned to the lineup and not a moment too soon. The junior running back responded with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Illini defense was leaky.

It wasn’t all pretty for the Illini this afternoon, however. They allowed 27 first-half points, the fourth most ever at home. Indiana quarterback Brendan Sorsby had one of his better games of the season, throwing for 289 yards and three touchdowns. The Hoosier running game wasn’t flashy but effective, with 162 yards on the ground.

They tightened up in the second half, shutting out the Hoosiers in the third quarter. However, the defense could not close the game, allowing 15 points in the fourth quarter. The defense came up big in overtime, holding IU to a field goal.


What’s better than one football story to tell your grandkids someday? Two football stories to tell your grandkids. Paddock’s two game-winning drives are a dream come true. He transferred to Illinois to finish his football career, where his uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather played their college football.

Jer’Zhan Newton’s three blocked kicks lead college football. Isaiah Williams’s nine catches pushed him past Marvin Harrison, Jr. for the conference lead in receptions. Illinois can make a bowl game if they split their last two games against Iowa and Northwestern.


Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.