A ball-control running attack, efficient passing and the ability to shorten the game by keeping the ball on long, clock-draining drives have been staples for coach P.J. Fleck and the Gophers football team when things are going well. After all, the opponent has a heck of a time scoring if its offense isn't on the field.

On Saturday, 24th-ranked Illinois gave the Gophers an extra-large dose of their own medicine, hogging the ball for more than two-thirds of the game and repeatedly marching up and down the field in a 26-14 victory in front of 45,683 in Champaign, Ill.

Along with their second consecutive defeat, the Gophers also lost quarterback Tanner Morgan, who took a hit to his head and left the game in the fourth quarter. Fleck said Morgan, who completed only four of 12 passes for 21 yards, was taken to a local medical center for evaluation, adding that the sixth-year senior was alert. Morgan was cleared by medical personnel to fly back to Minnesota with the team, which he did.

Chase Brown rushed 41 times for 180 yards and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, and Tommy DeVito completed 25 of 32 passes for 252 yards for the Fighting Illini (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten). Illinois handed the Gophers (4-2, 1-2) their second consecutive conference loss and dealt a huge blow to Minnesota's West Division title hopes.

"We just couldn't get off the field,'' Fleck said of the Gophers defense, which allowed scoring drives of 75, 74, 72, 75, 75 and 68 yards.

Illinois ran 86 offensive plays to the Gophers' 42, outgained Minnesota 472-180 and held the ball for 40 minutes, 4 seconds to the Gophers' 19:56. The Illini converted all four of their fourth-down situations, leading to 16 points.

And the few times the Gophers had the ball, they didn't do a lot with it – aside from Mohamed Ibrahim's 15 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. Morgan threw one interception, and backup Athan Kaliakmanis was picked off twice.

"There was a lack of total plays to begin with,'' Fleck said. "We were having success in the run game, but we didn't catch the ball. We haven't caught the ball well the last two weeks.''

The Gophers trailed 13-7 at halftime but took a 14-13 lead after Quentin Redding's 92-yard kickoff return set up Ibrahim's 4-yard TD run 26 seconds into the third quarter. Minnesota's offense, however, couldn't respond after Illinois grabbed the lead back.

Brown and DeVito set the tone early, leading a nine-play, 75-yard drive for a 7-0 lead on the running back's 40-yard TD catch 4:04 into the game. DeVito's 2-yard sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Minnesota 42 kept the chains moving.

"He's a workhorse,'' Fleck said of Brown, who leads the nation in rushing yards. "Their scheme matches what he does really well.''

Illinois rode the hot arm of DeVito to a 10-0 lead, with Fabrizio Pinton kicking a 31-yard field goal 1:54 into the second quarter. DeVito, who completed his first nine passes, found Isaiah Williams for a 7-yard gain on fourth-and-6 from the Minnesota 24.

The Gophers got a boost on the following possession when Ibrahim broke free for a 44-yard gain to the Illinois 22. Morgan then hit tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford, who made a great leaping catch for an 11-yard gain to the 11. On a makeshift quarterback draw, Morgan faked a handoff and a pass, then sprinted up the vacated middle for a 9-yard TD run that cut the Illini lead to 10-7 with 8:30 left in the second quarter.

Illinois answered to stretch the lead to 13-7 on Pinton's 23-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the second quarter. The 19-play, 72-yard march drained 8:05 from the clock, and DeVito's 12-yard pass to Pat Bryant on fourth-and-5 from the Minnesota 31 kept it alive.

After Redding gave the Gophers an immediate charge to start the second half and Ibrahim gave them the 14-13 lead, Illinois quickly responded, taking a 20-14 lead on DeVito's 6-yard TD run with 11:45 left in the third quarter. Key on the seven-play, 75-yard drive was DeVito's 35-yard pass to Brian Hightower to the Minnesota 5.

Pinton added his third and fourth field goals in the fourth quarter, shutting the door on the Gophers' comeback hopes.

"You have to start chasing some things, and they get you out of your game plan,'' Fleck said. "And whether that's self-inflicted or whether that's something they're doing, we've got to get better at both.''

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.