Receiver Lonnie Hurst catches a touchdown pass against Illinois State in the first half.
Sept 6, 2003
By JIM PAUL
Associated Press Writer
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Jon Beutjer threw four touchdown passes and Travis Williams returned a blocked field goal 66 yards for a score as Illinois defeated Illinois State 49-22 Saturday.
Beutjer connected with Mark Kornfeld for a 32-yard score, Kelvin Hayden for a 41-yard TD and Lonnie Hurst for a 30-yarder on successive Illinois drives in the first quarter after Illinois State marched down the field on the opening drive only to fumble at the end zone.
Despite the score, Division I-AA Illinois State was anything but a pushover for the Illini.
The Redbirds (1-1) rolled up 511 yards in total offense behind Mike Souza, who completed 33 of 56 passes for 385 yards. He also carried the ball 16 times for 71 yards.
Dwayne Smith, who transferred from Illinois before last season, caught 14 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, one a 74-yard play, against his former team.
Tailback Morris Virgil led the Illini with 84 yards on nine carries, one of them 35 yards for a score in the third quarter. Freshman E.B. Halsey ran the ball 20 times for 73 yards.
Illinois (1-1) built a 31-3 halftime lead after defensive end Derrick Strong blocked a field goal attempt and Williams ran it back for a touchdown as time ran out.
But the Redbirds outplayed the Illini in the third quarter and closed the gap to 38-19 going into the fourth quarter.
Beutjer's fourth TD pass of the game was a 4-yarder to Brad Haywood with 10:06 remaining.
Stephen Carroll kicked three field goals for the Redbirds. Jon Gockman kicked two for the Illini, who travel to UCLA next week.
Illinois State took the opening kickoff and marched from its own 34 to the Illinois 9 in six plays, with Souza completing four straight passes. But on a second-and-6 quarterback draw, Souza fumbled the ball into the end zone and Illini safety Marc Jackson recovered for a touchback.
The Redbirds scored on their first possession of the second half, with Souza's 10-yard TD pass to Smith capping a 13 play, 78-yard drive.