Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers is chased by Derrick Strong during the first half.
Sept 20, 2003
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Jon Beutjer set a Memorial Stadium record and a career-high passing mark, throwing for 430 yards, but it wasn't enough as the Fighting Illini fell 31-24 to California in their final non-conference game.
Trailing 21-7 at halftime, the Illini started quickly after halftime as Beutjer found wide receiver Kelvin Hayden deep down the middle for a 72-yard scoring strike on the second play of the half . The pass was the longest Illini pass since a 73-yard connection from Johnny Johnson to Jasper Strong in the 1994 Liberty Bowl. Hayden finished with 11 catches for 158 yards, both career highs.
After a California field goal made the score 31-14 with 11:07 to go, the Illini mounted a furious comeback, starting with an eight play, 80-yard drive that ended when Beutjer found running back E.B. Halsey along the sideline for a 29-yard touchdown pass.
After the Illini defense forced a Golden Bear punt, the Illini pulled to within seven on a 34-yard field goal by John Gockman.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Illini recovered an onside kick at the 50-yard line with 1:44 remaining. Facing a fourth and three, Beutjer found wide receiver Lonnie Hurst for six yards to give the Illini the ball at the eight-yard line with 17 seconds left. With no timeouts remaining, 11 seconds ticked off the clock as Beutjer's pass atttempt to Mark Kornfeld in the end zone fell incomplete. On the game's final play, Beutjer was sacked as time ran out.