Halftime reactions | Iowa leads Illinois, 17-13

The Fighting Illini jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the Hawkeyes responded to take the lead.

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Grace Smith

Iowa wide receiver Arland Bruce IV celebrates a touchdown during a football game between No. 17 Iowa and Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Illini 33-23 at the last home game of the season. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read and Chris Werner


The No. 17 Iowa football team leads Illinois, 17-13, at halftime of a Senior Day game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.

Illinois jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the 3:20 mark of the first quarter. Then, Iowa’s Charlie Jones returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to swing the momentum in the Hawkeyes’ favor. A toe-tap catch by wide receiver Arland Bruce IV to put the Hawkeyes in the red zone set up a two-yard rushing touchdown from Bruce to put Iowa on top. A career-long 51-yard field goal from Iowa kicker Caleb Shudak put Iowa up to 17 points in the half. The Fighting Illini managed to stop Iowa’s 17 consecutive point streak with a field goal at the 3:13 mark of the second quarter to make it 17-13 at the break.

DI Pregame Editor Robert Read and Sports Reporter Chris Werner are in the press box covering the game. Here are their reactions to the first half.

Iowa defense settles in after early struggles

The Illinois offense gained 75 yards on a long touchdown drive to open the game. Since then? The Fighting Illini have gained only 89. And on Illinois’ next three drives after its opening touchdown, it gained a combined nine yards, which allowed Iowa to gain the momentum.

The Hawkeye defense looked about as bad as it has all season long on the first Fighting Illini drive of the game. Iowa allowed three third-down conversions on that drive, and the absences of Matt Hankins and Jack Koerner in the secondary were very noticeable. Things could have been worse on the second drive. A bad snap on a Tory Taylor punt attempt set up the Fighting Illini at the Iowa 28-yard line. But the Hawkeye defense allowed zero yards and forced a field goal attempt.

After that stop, Jones returned the ensuing kickoff.

Iowa defensive back Dane Belton picked off his fifth pass of the season in the first half. He now has the Big Ten lead.

– Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Arland Bruce makes early impact

Iowa freshman wide receiver Arland Bruce IV stole the show in the first half of Iowa’s senior day showdown against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Bruce made his presence felt both on the ground and through the air during the first two quarters of Saturday’s game. The Haweyes lead Illinois, 17-13.  Bruce reeled in a pivotal 28-yard reception down the left sideline on a third and nine play to end the first quarter. The catch extended the Hawkeyes’ first scoring drive that Bruce capped off with a two-yard run into the end zone. The freshman attempted three runs for 21 total yards in the first half, all coming on jet motion plays. 

Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said he wanted to get back to jet sweep motion a couple weeks ago and he has done that. Bruce has 17 receptions, five rushing attempts and 196 scrimmage yards this year. He has found the end zone three times.

Senior Charlie Jones accounted for the other Iowa touchdown, returning a James McCourt kickoff 100 yards for the score. 

It was Jones’ second special teams touchdown in a Hawkeye uniform after he took a punt return to the house last season against Michigan State. 

Jones’ has yet to decide if he’ll be returning to the team next season. 

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