Illinois and Penn State made NCAA history on Saturday when the two teams played the first nine-overtime game in history and it would be the Fighting Illini picking up the upset victory.
Illinois wide receiver Casey Washington made the game-winning 2-point catch on a pass from Brandon Peters in the final overtime for the 20-18 victory, knocking off the No. 7 team in the nation.
“I actually cried,” Washington said after the game. “It just felt good.”
Both teams had miscues in the overtime runs. Illinois’ Arthur Sitkowski missed on Illinois’ first try in overtime and then was held to nothing in the next four overtimes. Josh McCray would also be stuffed at the goal line. Sitkowski would have to leave the game in the sixth overtime after getting hurt. It led to Peters getting the game-winning pass to Washington later in the game.
Penn State cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (5) breaks up a pass intended for Illinois wide receiver Casey Washington (14) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa.on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Illinois defeated Penn State 20-18 in nine overtimes. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Penn State took a page out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ playbook and ran the “Philly Special” but the pass from tight end Tyler Warren to a banged-up Sean Clifford missed the mark.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) scrambles away from Illinois linebacker Owen Carney Jr. (99) in the first overtime of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Illinois defeated Penn State 20-18 in the ninth overtime. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
The two would complete 2-point plays back and forth in the eighth overtime and it came down to the ninth. Clifford’s pass to Parker Washington was broken up by Illinois linebacker Khalan Tolson and on the other end Peters found Casey Washington.
The team would dogpile on Washington after the game.
“To see our locker room right now is pretty special,” Illinois coach Bret Bielema said. “They fight for one another.”
Bielema picked up his 100th win as a head coach.
llinois players James McCourt (17) and Jamal Woods (91) celebrate their 20-18 victory over Penn State after the ninth overtime of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa.on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Illinois and Penn State were tied at 10 after regulation and exchanged field goals in the first two overtimes. NCAA rules were tweaked so that the two teams run one play from the 3-yard line in the third OT and beyond. Each score counted as two points.
Illinois was very run-heavy during the game with Chase Brown running for 223 yards on 33 carries and McCray finishing with 142 yards on 24 carries.
Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Casey Washington (right) celebrates following the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State’s Clifford finished with 19-for-34 with 165 yards and a touchdown.
The game previously broke the NCAA record of seven overtimes. Texas A&M beat LSU in that 2018 game, 74-72.
Penn State dropped to 5-2 on the season. Illinois moved to 3-5 on the season.