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CFB: Jacks Thumped By Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois scored touchdowns on four consecutive offensive possessions and returned an interception for a score in the first half en route to a 56-3 victory over South Dakota State Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Fighting Illini, behind the running and passing of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, improved to 2-0, while the Jackrabbits fell to 1-1 on the season.

The Jackrabbits held Illinois to a three-and-out on the Illini’s opening drive of the game, but failed to stop the balanced offensive attack for the remainder of the half. Donovonn Young opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive with 3 minutes, 58 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Illinois pushed the lead to 14-0 later in the opening stanza on a 4-yard run by Jason Ford. The Fighting Illini needed only three plays to march 82 yards as Troy Pollard scampered 61 yards on the first play of the drive and Scheelhaase gained another 17 yards on the ground to set up Ford’s score.

SDSU’s chances of a comeback were further thwarted as Thomas O’Brien was intercepted by Trulon Jones on the Jackrabbits’ next play from scrimmage, with Jones scoring from 27 yards out.

The onslaught continued as Illinois scored on its first two possessions of the second quarter. Scheelhaase capped a seven-play, 71-yard drive with a 4-yard run to make the score 28-7.

After being held without a first down on their first five possessions, the Jackrabbits were able to put together a sustained drive midway through the second quarter. Zach Zenner set up SDSU near midfield with a 47-yard kickoff return and O’Brien moved the chains with completions on third and fourth down before Kyle Harris put the Jackrabbits on the board with a 33-yard field goal to make the score 28-3. The drive covered 11 plays and 36 yards, taking nearly seven minutes off the clock.

Young capped the first-half scoring with his second touchdown run of the game, a 41-yard burst with 1:37 to play in the half.

It was more of the same in the second half. Scheelhaase directed Illinois on a 10-play, 81-yard drive to open the half, capping the march with a 3-yard run. Later in the quarter, backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole hit Evan Wilson on a 8-yard pass to up the margin to 49-3.

O’Toole ended the day 9-of-9 passing for 50 yards. Scheelhaase was 6-for-8 for 102 yards. A.J. Jenkins led Illinois receivers with five catches for 71 yards.

Pollard, who led Illinois’ running attack with 101 yards on eight carries, closed out the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run to close out a 12-play, 77-yard drive. Scheelhaase finished with 93 rushing yards as the Fighting Illini gained 364 yards on the ground.

Illinois held a 519-96 advantage in total offense. SDSU’s offensive output was its lowest in a game during the Division I era, which began in 2004.

Tyrel Kool finished as the Jackrabbits’ leading rusher with 32 yards on 11 carries. O’Brien was 8-of-18 passing for 37 yards with two interceptions. Austin Sumner saw his first collegiate action, completing 3-of-4 passes for 34 yards in a mop-up role.

Mike Lien led the Jackrabbit defense with eight tackles, followed by seven each from Skyler Luxa and Andy Mink.

One bright spot on the day for the Jackrabbits was the punting of Jason Schlautman. The senior from Columbus, Neb., averaged 50.7 yards on seven punts, recording four punts of 50-plus yards with a long of 63.

The Jackrabbits return to action Sept. 17, closing out non-conference action at Cal Poly. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. Pacific Time (6 p.m. Central) at Alex G. Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Notes: Saturday’s game marked the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Illinois in football … SDSU dropped to 1-19 all-time against current Big Ten Conference opponents … Zenner totaled 133 yards on five kickoff returns and Dom Wright added two returns for 42 yards … nine different Jackrabbits caught passes, with Kyle Sheehan and Zach Zenner tying for the team lead with two … SDSU could muster only six first downs in the game, compared to 27 by Illinois … Illinois was 9-of-11 on third-down attempts, while SDSU was 2-for-12 … the Jackrabbits’ previous low for total offense in the D-I era was 102 yards in a 7-0 loss at Montana in 2005 … attendance was 42,212

Courtesy: Jason Hove, SDSU Sports Information

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