ST. LOUIS -- Here’s one last look at the final game in the Illinois-Missouri Arch Rivalry series.
Biggest hit of the game: After eluding a blocker and taking down Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe for a three-yard loss on the right side of the field, Illinois linebacker Nate Bussey did the same for another three-yard loss, but with even more impact, on the left side on the following play. As Moe caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage, Bussey avoided Missouri’s blocker, darted at Moe and delivered a shot that popped Moe’s helmet off.
Biggest play of the game: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert was being pressured and was running out of time to find someone open on third-and-5 on Illinois’ 5-yard line. Gabbert scrambled to his left with Illinois’ defenders pursuing and finally found an open Moe in the far left corner of the end zone. The touchdown pulled Missouri within 13-10 and sparked the offense.
ESPNChicago SportsCenter highlight of the game: Covering Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and with the ball heading his way, Missouri defensive back Carl Gettis reached above his head with his left hand, snatched the ball and brought it down with enough control to secure it with his right hand for an interception.
Illinois MVP: Running back Mikel Leshoure. There had been a lot of hype about the type of season Leshoure could have, and he started living up to it on Saturday. He broke a few runs, including one for 42 yards, and finished with 112 yards on 20 carries.
Missouri MVP: Defensive end Aldon Smith. Smith gave Illinois’ offensive line fits all night. He had a team-high 10 tackles, three tackles for a loss, two sacks and one quarterback hurry.
One for the history books: Just as Illinois redshirt quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was delivering his first career touchdown pass, Missouri’s Carl Gettis was putting a hit on him. After admiring Jenkins’ run into the end zone, Scheelhaase turned to Gettis and let him know what just happened.
The forgotten story: With the play of redshirt freshman Scheelhaase, the defense holding its own and a close game with Missouri, there will be little talk of Illinois’ kicking game after this one. It should be noted, though, that kicker Derek Dimke connected on two field goals, including a career-long 52-yarder. It was the longest Illinois field goal since 1987. Punter Anthony Santella didn’t get a lot of work, but he did boom them when needed. He averaged 46.8 yards on four punts and had a long of 52 yards.