Illinois' Arrelious Benn (9) goes for extra yardage over the top over Penn State's Anthony Scirrotto (7) and Lydell Sargeant (10). (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Sept. 29, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Arrelious Benn returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and caught a pass for another and the Illinois defense intercepted three passes for a 27-20 upset over No. 21 Penn State on Saturday.
The Illini (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) forced Nittany Lions' quarterback Anthony Morelli into three interceptions and a fumble, all in the second half and all deep in Illinois territory.
Penn State fell to 3-2, 0-2 with upcoming games against Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Benn returned a first-quarter kickoff for a score and caught six passes for 84 yards.
The Illini led by four at halftime, 21-17, not so different from the 9-3 lead they carried into halftime last year at Penn State. In that game, the Nittany Lions found new life at the break, shutting Illinois out in the second half and winning 26-12.
Like last year, Illinois' offense struggled in the second half, but the defense held Penn State to a field goal in the game's final half hour.
The Nittany Lions drove deep into Illinois territory four times in the second half, and all but one ended with a turnover.
The last, with 27 second left, sealed the win for Illinois.
Morelli, facing a third down and 20 at his own 48, scrambled to his right and threw deep in Illini territory, but Mitchell intercepted.
Illinois quarterback Juice Williams was sharp for the game's first 20 minutes, but struggled to find his receivers for most of the second and third quarters. The sophomore completed 11 of 23 passes for 120 yards and touchdown, but also threw two interceptions before being replaced in the fourth quarter by red-shirt freshman Eddie McGee.