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Jones’ kick return lifts No. 18 Iowa past Illinois 33-23

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Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters (18) is tackled by Iowa defensive back Kaevon Merriweather, right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Charlie Jones had a 100-yard kickoff return for No. 18 Iowa’s first touchdown as the Hawkeyes defeated Illinois 33-23.

Iowa was trailing 10-0 in the first quarter when Jones took the kick in the right corner of the end zone and ran through a hole on the left side for the score.

Iowa wide receiver Arland Bruce IV had a 2-yard run for a touchdown and Caleb Shudak had four field goals, while Jack Campbell had a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown. Tyler Goodson had 132 rushing yards for the Hawkeyes.

Read more: Final stats

After a strong start, Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters struggled through much of the game, finishing 16-36 passing for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Peters led Illinois down the field to open the game, finishing the drive with a touchdown pass to tight end Luke Ford. He was 6-7 passing on that drive.

The Illini also struggled to run the ball, carrying 25 times for just 64 yards. Despite the struggles on offense, the defense kept Illinois in the game. Illinois had several chances to tie or take the lead in the second half, but failed to score a touchdown until Peters found Isaiah Williams in the end zone when the game was out of reach in the final seconds.

Illinois coach Bret Bielema missed Saturday’s game after testing positive for COVID-19 early in the week. Assistant head coach George McDonald assumed head coaching duties for Saturday’s game.

Illinois fell to 4-7 on the season and will host Northwestern next Saturday to close the regular season. Iowa improved to 9-2.

Despite clinching a losing record for the season, Illinois could still find itself in a bowl game as there will likely not be enough teams with six wins to fill all of the spots.

Brian Moline contributed reporting to this story.

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