Fighting Illini Cruise Past San Diego State 49-13
Sept. 9, 2000
By BERNIE WILSON
SAN DIEGO - Illinois didn't waste any time in getting off to its second straight rout.
"We pretty much could move the ball at will after the first drive," Kittner said.
Illinois scored on five of its first seven possessions to lead 35-6 at halftime. That was the same score by which the Fighting Illini beat Middle Tennessee in their opener, after leading just 7-6 at halftime.
"We came ready to play. We didn't have any letdowns in the first half," Kittner said.
"This is a business trip," Harris said. "We came here focused."
Rocky Harvey, the other half of Illinois' tailback tandem, gained 124 yards on 15 carries, the first 104 yards coming in the first half. Harris, who carried 23 times, and Harvey each went over the 100-yard mark for the second straight game.
Kittner completed 18 of 25 passes for 148 yards, with no interceptions. Backup quarterback Dustin Ward came on for Illinois (2-0) with 13:03 to play. San Diego State fell to 0-2.
Harris scored on runs of 3 and 15 yards in the first half, then added a 2-yard run with 7:02 to play to give the Fighting Illini a 42-13 lead.
San Diego State quarterback Jack Hawley left with a strained neck in the fourth quarter. He was 15-of-29 for 119 yards, with one interception. His backup, Lon Sheriff, was intercepted by Eugene Wilson, whose 22-yard return set up fullback Carlos Lattimore's 6-yard touchdown run with 5:03 to play.
"I've never been in a game like this in my entire life," Hawley said. "We knew that they were going to be big and strong - they're a Big Ten team - but we never showed up."
Said coach Ted Tollner: "There is not a lot to say about that one. We just got beat. A lot of it had to do with the opponent. That is a pretty good football team."
The rout followed a disappointing 10-7 opening loss to Arizona State in which the sloppy Aztecs offense wasted a strong defensive effort.
"We have not made one play to speak of," Tollner said.
Harvey gained 104 yards on 11 carries in the first half, 53 of them coming on the first play of a drive that started with 2:16 left in the second quarter. He started to the left side, cut back to the middle and then ran out of bounds at the 25, drawing a late hit that moved the ball to the 11.
Two play later, Kittner hit wide-open tight end Brian Hodges on a 9-yard TD pass for a 35-6 lead.
Greg Lewis caught a 20-yard pass from Kittner for Illinois' first touchdown 4:19 into the game. Lewis tied a school record a week earlier by catching three TD passes.
Illinois got the ball right back when safety Bobby Jackson intercepted Hawley at the San Diego State 28, setting up Harris' 3-yard TD run.
Nate Tandberg kicked field goals of 28 and 26 yards to pull San Diego State to 14-6 with 11:29 left in the second quarter, but the Aztecs ran just eight more plays the rest of the half.
Kittner threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josh Whitman to end a 13-play, 72-yard drive, and Harris raced 15 yards up the middle to finish Illinois' next drive for a 28-6 lead. Only two Aztecs managed to get their hands on Harris on that play, failing to even slow him.
Larry Ned scored San Diego State's only TD, on a 1-yard run with seven seconds left in the third quarter.