Fighting Illini Dominate Arkansas State In Opener

Illinois' Steve Havard is<br>tripped up by an<br>Arkansas State defender<br>during the first half.
Illinois' Steve Havard is
tripped up by an
Arkansas State defender
during the first half.

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Sept. 4, 1999

Associated Press Writer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.- Kurt Kittner passed for 217 yards and two touchdowns as Illinois beat Arkansas State 41-3 on Saturday, only the fourth Illini victory in the last 26 games.

The Illini also scored on a punt return, two field goals and Rocky Harvey's two TD runs.

Illinois committed no turnovers and had only one penalty in winning its first opener since 1992. Arkansas State has lost its last four openers.

Illinois, which led 24-3 at halftime, was headed for the end zone early in the third quarter after Kittner hooked up with Brandon Lloyd on a 49-yard pass. Five plays later, Harvey ran seven yards to cap a 69-yard drive with 9:40 left.

The Indians went three-and-out on the next series and, after an incomplete pass by Kittner, Harvey burst up the center of the field on a 40-yard touchdown run to put Illinois up 38-3 with 7:38 left in the quarter.

Arkansas State got the first score of the game on Nick Gatto's 32-yard field goal with 9:13 left in the first quarter.

Late in the first quarter, Kittner's 40-yard pass to Michael Dean set up a 5-yard TD pass to tight end Brian Hodges that put Illinois ahead 7-3.

Kittner's 12-yard pass to Dean made it 14-3 with 9:18 left in the half.

Eugene Wilson's 65-yard punt return up the center of the field gave Illinois a 21-3 lead with 6:52 left before halftime.