The play that got Purdue rolling in a 21-14 victory over Illinois in a Big Ten Conference football game Saturday came in the first quarter.

Facing a 3 and 21 at the 50-yard line, Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush avoided a sack, then connected with wide receiver Justin Siller on a 32-yard pass play. Siller, a converted quarterback, leaped to grab the pass after Illini cornerback Justin Green mistimed his jump.

"Illinois brought the blitz, so I had to get out of the pocket,'' said TerBush, who led Metamora to the Class 5A state title as a senior. "I knew the wide receivers had to make something happen. I saw Siller. I just put it over the cornerback and let (Siller) go up and grab it.''

TerBush and the Boilermakers made more plays than the Illini, who entered with 26 sacks but got TerBush only once. A starter after injuries to the top two Purdue quarterbacks, TerBush didn't talk big after a win over his homestate school.

"It's kind of nice, but you look to win every game,'' he said. "It's a rivalry game. I didn't look at it different from any other game.''

NO CONTROVERSY: The Illini inserted freshman quarterback Reilly O'Toole for a series in the second quarter. He completed passes on four consecutive plays for 35 yards to reach the Purdue 35 before his fifth pass attempt was intercepted.

"We were trying to get a spark,'' coach Ron Zook said. "We talked a little bit at halftime. Nathan gives us the best overall opportunity to win the game.''

O'Toole, who hadn't taken a snap in Big Ten play before Saturday, didn't play in the second half.

NOTHING SPECIAL: While the offense and defense didn't play up to standards, the Illini special teams are anything but special despite Zook's analysis that they improved last the previous game against Ohio State.

The Illini returned three of Purdue's eight punts for an average of minus-1.75 yards. The Illini already ranked 119th among 120 teams in major-college football in punt returns.

It got worse. On a second-quarter punt attempt, freshman Justin DuVernois failed to get the punt off in the face of a stiff rush.

"Justin took his eyes off the ball and looked at the rush,'' Zook said. "He felt the rush.''

DuVernois was dropped for a 10-yard loss at the Illini 14-yard line. Purdue scored four plays later for a 21-0 lead.

NO TIME: Illinois moved the ball to the Purdue 21 with 1 second left in the first half on a big play by Scheelhaase, who rushed for 17 yards before pitching it to Ford. He continued the play by rushing for 17 more yards. The effort chewed 16 seconds off the clock.

On the ensuing play, the Illini got off the snap, but Scheelhaase spiked the ball instead to kill the clock rather than throw it into the end zone.

"You'd like to throw it down there,'' Zook said. "You don't have time to spike it.''

INJURY REPORT: Receiver Darius Millines didn't play for the fourth consecutive game with a stress fracture in his foot. Running back Troy Pollard suffered a bruised back. Cornerback Terry Hawthorne, who was limited against Ohio State because of foot pain, didn't start but played the bulk of the game.

John Supinie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JohnSupinie.