CHAMPAIGN—Late in the fourth quarter Saturday, Illinois kicker David Reisner lined up for a 50-yard field goal and watched as a hard wind pushed it wide left of the target.The sophomore said he never would have made the next one if he hadn’t missed the first.Reisner adjusted for the wind and, with eight seconds left in the game, hit from 36 yards for a 16-14 win over Penn State.
”I would have thought differently if we didn’t have that 50-yarder,” Reisner said. ”That was a (long) kick and you could really see the wind take it.”
Reisner’s game-winner finished off the seven-play, 54-yard drive that backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole led Illinois on.They made for two of the least likely heroes for a team fighting to take the pressure off coach Tim Beckman – the kicker on an Illinois team (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) that almost never tries field goals, and the backup quarterback who seldom plays unless the starter is hurt. O’Toole came on for an ineffective Wes Lunt in the second quarter.Reisner made three field goals Saturday, one more than Illinois had made all season.Before the last one, Beckman gave his kicker a vote of confidence.
”I looked him in the eye, and told him `This is easy for you,”’ Beckman said.
Illinois has one game left, next Saturday at Northwestern, to try to get a sixth win and a potential bowl trip. Penn State closes the regular season at home against Michigan State.