“They put in a 6-7 receiver, so it was kind of obvious that they were probably going to throw to him,’’ said Illinois sophomore defensive back V’Angelo Bentley. “We have built our defense on pride and making stands when they count.
“It’s was fourth down and probably the biggest play of the game. Our coaches and (teammates) believed in us, we believed in the call and we made a play.’’
Bentley also had a hand in the scoring with a 100-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. It was the first kickoff return for a score since A.J. Jenkins went 96 yards against Indiana in 2008.
“Coach (Mile) Bellamy challenged me to make a play for the team and get a return for a touchdown,’’ Bentley said. “Before the season started, all we heard was how their hadn’t be a kick or punt return in years. We put that burden on ourselves to make the play.
“Everyone made their blocks and I just had to run the ball down the field.’’
With their 16th straight home-opening victory behind them, the Illini will now turn their attention to a BCS conference opponent.
Illinois will host the Cincinnati Bearcats, a 42-7 winner over Purdue on Saturday, in a 11 a.m. contest next Saturday at Memorial Stadium.