CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – 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.
The sophomore said he never would have made the next one if not for that miss. Reisner adjusted for the wind and, with eight seconds left, hit from 36 yards to give the Illini a 16-14 victory over Penn State.
“I would have thought differently if we didn’t have that 50-yarder,” Reisner said. His game-winner capped a seven-play, 54-yard drive under backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole.
They made for two of the least likely heroes for Illinois (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten), which is trying to take the pressure off coach Tim Beckman: a kicker on a team that almost never tries field goals, and a backup QB who seldom plays. O’Toole replaced an ineffective Wes Lunt in the second quarter against the Nittany Lions (6-5, 2-5).
Before the last field goal, Beckman said, “I looked [Reisner] in the eye, and told him, ‘This is easy for you.’ ”