BOULDER, Colo. – After starting the season 0-2 and losing captain and fly half Matt Ramsey to a sprained ACL in the team’s 52-10 loss to Ohio State, another bleak season appeared inevitable for Illinois. Instead, the team regrouped after its second consecutive loss, and received a massive performance from D1A Player of the Week Mario Lozano.
Playing against an equally desperate Iowa side, the Fighting Illini clung to a 7-5 lead late into the first half. In the 39th minute, Lozano dotted down and converted his own try to give his team a much needed boost, and a 14-5 lead going into half.
The second half continued to belong to Lozano and Illinois, as the scrum half added two more tries and another conversion, totaling for 21 points in the 51-10 victory.
“Mario played his best game of the season so far,” Illinois’ club president and number eight, Rich Daniels, said. “He was the most aggressive force for us on both offense and defense, and he made impact tackles, ball carries, and set the pace at scrumhalf.”
The loss of an influential player like Ramsey means several Fighting Illini will be called on to improve their individual games, but, thus far, it’s been the senior Economics major who’s shouldered the additional load.
“Mario has stepped up as a leader by example, and with vocal motivation in lieu of Ramsey’s absence,” Daniels added. “He inspired the rest of the team to give it their all last weekend, and will continue to do that for the remainder of the season.”
Lozano and his teammates are off this weekend, but return to the pitch Oct. 17 against Minnesota.