Rutgers wins home thriller over visiting Illinois 19-17 in battle of ranked foes

By Chad Beyler, University of Illinois | Jan. 06, 2017, 10:59 p.m. (ET)
 Rutgers 125-pounder Brandon Paetzell celebrates win over Illinois'
Travis Piotrowski. Photo: Larry Levanti, Rutgers Athletics.
Rutgers Release
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Jan. 6, 2017) – The second period was winding down in the 157-pound bout between John Van Brill and Illinois’ Kyle Langenderfer, and the Rutgers wrestler faced a 7-0 deficit in the defensive position. But on the restart the bout – and the match – swung in the Scarlet Knights’ favor.
No. 19-ranked Van Brill hit a reversal and stuck Langenderfer at the 4:46 mark, igniting the 2,552 fans at the Rutgers Athletic Center and giving No. 11 Rutgers a 13-6 lead at intermission.
The momentum carried RU through the second half of the dual and into a pair of wins to close the match, as heavyweight Razohnn Gross scored a takedown with 18 seconds left to give RU a 19-17 win over No. 12 Illinois (1-1, 0-1).
The bout victory – the first of Gross’ career in his RAC debut – helped Rutgers to 2-0 in Big Ten Conference competition and 7-1 overall on the year as the Scarlet Knights approach a showdown at No. 4 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) Sunday at noon on Big Ten Network.
“He’s dangerous. He’s never out of a match, we knew that,” said head coach Scott Goodale of John Van Brill. “He fell down 7-0 and it was deflating on the bench. That’s a match we think we should win. He’s one of the better kids in the country, and their kid’s third in the Big Ten two years ago. On paper, we’re hoping to get that one. He’s down 7-0, but he’s dangerous. We preach it every day: keep wrestling and good things will happen. You never know. And he’s capable of hitting those kind of moves.”
While Van Brill’s (15-6, 6-1 duals) pin favorably shifted momentum and Gross (6-6, 1-4 duals) sealed the deal, it was the true freshman duo of Brandon Paetzell (125 Pounds) and Matthew Correnti (197 Pounds) that came up big in high pressure spots.
Wrestling in his first RAC match and kicking off the action, Paetzell (10-3, 2-0 duals) showed no signs of nerves against fellow rookie Travis Piotrowski of Illinois. The Phillipsburg, New Jersey, native escaped to tie the match with 40 seconds remaining in the third period, but Piotrowski held the riding time advantage. Time ticked away, as Paetzell got around on a takedown with just one second remaining for a thrilling 3-2 decision to start the dual.
“Paetzell – we call him the roadrunner. It’s constant, it’s nonstop, and that’s the way he wrestled. He’s got to do a better job of getting to his attacks because he can do more. He’s going to be really, really good down the road, and I feel the same way about Matt Correnti.”
Correnti (9-6, 4-2 duals) came out on the attack against Illinois’ Andre Lee, building an 11-3 period after three minutes of wrestling. Starting the second period on bottom, Lee fired back, escaping and converting two takedowns to make it a 12-8 Correnti advantage. In the end, Correnti escaped with a gutsy 16-12 decision, which made the Illinois lead 17-16 and set Gross up for the walk-off win a match later.
“What a story, right? What a story. First dual meet at the RAC and it comes down to him,” Goodale said of Gross. “Everything he’s been through and all the years with DJ Russo and Billy Smith and then here comes Razohnn in a big spot. Good for him. That’s a gutty win.”
RU’s other win on the night came from No. 6 Anthony Ashnault at 141 pounds. The two-time All-American accumulated 5:03 of riding time in a 10-0 major decision to improve to 15-3 overall and 7-1 in dual competition.
At 133 pounds, Scott DelVecchio (13-6, 3-1 duals) fell, 9-7, in a hard-fought match against No. 4 Zane Richards. DelVecchio reversed Richards with time winding down but could not make up the points in time to tie things up.
Getting the nod at 149 pounds, redshirt sophomore Anthony Giraldo (15-6, 2-2 duals) dropped a close one, 5-3, against Eric Barone. Barone took Giraldo to the mat in the final minute and rode him out for the victory.
Two-time national champion Isaiah Martinez topped Willie Scott (12-6, 4-2 duals) by a 24-8 tech fall coming out of intermission, bringing the match to 13-11 with four to go.
The Fighting Illini distanced themselves in the next two matches with sudden victory decisions, appearing to take control of the dual by amassing a 17-13 lead. 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas (10-4, 4-3) fell in a 3-1 match against No. 12 Zac Brunson, and a match later No. 11 Nicholas Gravina (12-3, 5-2 duals) suffered the same fate in an 8-6 decision against No. 14 Emery Parker.
But Correnti rose to the roars of the Rutgers Athletic Center, and Gross did the rest at heavyweight.
“I felt Correnti could win this bout. He’s a blue chip recruit and one of the better kids in the country last year who’s just getting a feel of this,” Goodale said.” This is hard on him. First semester of school, cutting weight, getting down. He wrestled 220 in high school. This has been hard for him. It’s been tough, but it’s nights like tonight that get you over the hump.”
Rutgers travels to face No. 4 Ohio State on Sunday at noon at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The match will be televised live on Big Ten Network.
No. 11 Rutgers (7-1, 2-0) 19, No. 12 Illinois (1-1, 0-1) 17
Dual started at 125 pounds
Location: Rutgers Athletic Center (Piscataway, N.J.)
Attendance: 2,552
Officials: Nate Chapman and Jim Rivello

125: Brandon Paetzell (RU) dec. over Travis Piotrowski (ILL), 3-2; Rutgers leads, 3-0
133: No. 4/4/4 Zane Richards (ILL) dec. over Scott DelVecchio (RU), 9-7; Dual tied, 3-3
141: No. 6/6/6 Anthony Ashnault (RU) major dec. over Mousa Jodeh (ILL); Rutgers leads, 7-3
149: Eric Barone (ILL) dec. over No. NR/NR/19 Anthony Giraldo (RU), 5-3; Rutgers leads, 7-6
157: No. 19/13/17 John Van Brill (RU) wins by fall over Kyle Langenderfer (ILL), 4:46; Rutgers leads, 13-6
165: No. 1/1/1 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) tech fall over Willie Scott (RU), 24-8; Rutgers leads, 13-11
174: No. 12/10/12 Zac Brunson (ILL) dec. over Phillip Bakuckas (RU), 3-1 (SV); Illinois leads, 14-13
184: No. 14/13/14 Emery Parker (ILL) dec. over No. 11/11/10 Nicholas Gravina (RU), 8-6 (SV); Illinois leads 17-13
197: Matthew Correnti (RU) dec. over Andre Lee (ILL), 16-12; Illinois leads, 17-16
HWT: Razohnn Gross (RU) dec. over Deuce Rachal (ILL), 3-2; Rutgers wins, 19-17
Rankings (-/-/-): InterMat / FloWrestling/The Open Mat
NR denotes not ranked

Illinois Release
New Brunswick, N.J. – Fighting Illini wrestling dropped a back-and-forth dual against No. 13 Rutgers, 19-17, on Friday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Evenly matched, the Illini (1-1, 0-1) and Scarlet Knights (7-1, 2-0) traded blows throughout the night, as both teams won five matches. With the Illini leading 17-13 through eight bouts, Rutgers responded with back-to-back victories to defeat the 11th-ranked Illini. Zane Richards (133), Eric Barone (149), Isaiah Martinez (165), Zac Brunson (174) and Emery Parker (184) earned victories to lead the Illini.

"As a team we found a way to lose a very winnable match," said Head Coach Jim Heffernan. "It was a huge win for Barone in his first varsity dual meet, beating a very good opponent who placed high in the Big Ten Tournament last year. He showed a lot of fire and heart. Parker seemed to be in control most of the match and figured out a way to get it done in overtime. For Brunson, he let his opponent hang around too much and that's why the match was closer than it should have been. He found a way to win at the end. Getting lost in all of this was a good effort by Langenderfer who was ahead by 7 points when he got pinned. It's going to be very important for Kyle, deuce, Andre, Travis, and Mousa to bounce back on Sunday at Maryland. I saw some fight out of our guys that we didn't have at weights last week."

It came down to the final bout as the Illini led 17-16 entering the heavyweight match, and Coach Heffernan turned to Deuce Rachal. Facing Razohnn Gross, the two heavyweights traded escapes in the second and third periods to enter the final minute tied, 1-1. However, it was Gross who was to get a takedown on, hanging on for a 3-2 decision to clinch the victory for the Scarlet Knights.

The dual started with a heartbreaking loss for Illinois' Travis Piotrowski, as the Illini freshman lost his first career Big Ten dual on a last-second takedown by Brandon Paetzell (10-3). Tied 1-1 late in the third period, Piotrowski (8-7) had clinched the riding time point but gave up a takedown with one second remaining in the period. The Illini challenged that the takedown came after time expired, but the takedown was upheld to give Paetzell the 3-2 decision.

Trailing 3-0, Coach Heffernan turned to fourth-ranked Zane Richards at 133 pounds to get the Illini on the board. Tyson Dippery (12-4) took an early 2-0 lead, but Richards responded with takedowns in the first and second periods to even the score, 5-5, entering the final two minutes. In the final period, Richards used an escape and a takedown to gain control of the match, holding off a late Dippery reversal for the 9-7 decision.

After Rutgers regained the lead with a 10-0 major decision by No. 6 Anthony Ashnault (15-3) over Mousa Jodeh (8-9) at 141 pounds, the Illini received a big boost from redshirt freshman Eric Barone at 149 pounds. Wrestling in his first collegiate dual match, Barone gave up an early takedown and second-period stalling penalty to trail 3-1 entering the third period. However, Barone battled back with four points in the final period, highlighted by a takedown with under a minute remaining to take the lead. Adding on a point for riding time, Barone earned a 5-3 decision to bring the Illini to within 7-6.  

Kyle Langenderfer continued the momentum early in the 157-pound bout as he jumped out to a 7-0 lead over No. 19 John Van Brill (Rutgers) midway through the second period. However, Van Brill responded with a takedown and four-point near fall to take control. Continuing to ride Langenderfer, Van Brill was able to get Langenderfer on his back once more, this time earning the fall with 4:46 on the clock. With the momentum-switching pin, Rutgers led the match 13-6 heading into the intermission.

Trailing by seven points, the Illini turned to top-ranked Isaiah Martinez at 165 pounds to cut into the deficit. Martinez (13-0) jumped out to an 11-4 advantage through three minutes, and then cruised to a 24-8 technical fall to cut the Rutgers lead to 13-11.

Following Martinez's victory, No. 12 Zac Brunson and No. 14 Emery Parker won thrilling overtime decisions to retake the lead for the Orange and Blue.

 Brunson (18-3) gave the Illini a 14-13 lead with a sudden-victory defeat of Phillip Bakuckas (10-4). Tied 1-1 after seven minutes, the Illini senior wrapped up Bakuckas 26 seconds into the extra period for his team-leading 18th victory on the season.

 A much more offensive match than at 174 pounds, Parker (17-3) and No. 11 Nicholas Gravina (12-3) traded blows throughout the match on their way to a 6-6 tie after three periods. In overtime, Parker and Gravina got into a scramble midway through the one-minute period where the Illini redshirt sophomore was able to turn the Scarlet Knight grappler for the takedown. The win over Gravina marked Parker's second over a ranked opponent this season.

The dual took one final turn, as Matthew Correnti defeated Illinois' Andre Lee (7-6) in a high-octane dual, winning by a 16-12 decision, to trim the Illini lead to 17-16 before Gross won the winner-take-all heavyweight bout over Rachal, 3-2.

The Fighting Illini (1-1, 0-1) will look to bounce back at Maryland on Sunday, January 8 when the Illini take on the Terrapins at 10 a.m. central time. The dual will be streamed live on BTN Plus with a paid subscription.

#13 Rutgers 19, #11 Illinois 17
125: Brandon Paetzell (Rutgers) won by decision over Travis Piotrowski (ILL), 3-2 | 0-3
133 – #4 Zane Richards (ILL) won by decision over Tyson Dippery (RU), 9-7 | 3-3
141 – #6 Anthony Ashnault (RU) won by major decision over Mousa Jodeh (ILL), 10-0 | 3-7
149 – Eric Barone (ILL) won by decision over Anthony Giraldo (RU), 5-3 | 6-7
157 – #19 John Van Brill (RU) won by fall over Kyle Langenderfer (ILL) #19 John Van Brill (RU), 4:46 | 6-13
165 - #1 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) won by technical fall over Willie Scott (RU), 24-8 | 11-13
174 - #12 Zac Brunson (ILL) won by sudden victory over Phillip Bakuckas (RU), 3-1 | 14-13
184 - #14 Emery Parker (ILL) won by sudden victory over (ILL) #11 Nicholas Gravina (RU), 8-6
197 – Matthew Correnti won by decision (RU) Andre Lee (ILL), 16-12 | 17-16
HWT – Razohnn Gross (RU) wins by decision over Deuce Rachal (ILL), 3-2 | 17-19