Youngstown St 17

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Illinois 28

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: BTN

12:00 PM ET, August 30, 2014

Memorial Stadium (Champaign, IL), Champaign, IL

1 2 3 4 T
YSU 3 3 3 817
ILL 0 7 0 2128

Top Performers

Passing: W. Lunt (ILL) - 285 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: M. Ruiz (YSU) - 32 CAR, 116 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: M. Dudek (ILL) - 3 REC, 61 YDS, 1 TD

Illini, Lunt survive Youngstown scare, 28-17

Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- It took a while but new quarterback Wes Lunt delivered a come-from-behind 28-17 win Saturday for Illinois over Youngstown State in a season opener.

Lunt threw three late touchdowns for Illinois. The second was a 15-yarder to running back Josh Ferguson that put Illinois up for good 21-17.

Lunt finished the day 24 of 38 for 285 yards and four touchdowns. He used nine different receivers.

Lunt's highly anticipated debut after his transfer from Oklahoma State started slowly. The Illini had seven first downs by halftime and clung to a 7-6 lead.

The Penguins took a 17-14 lead with 10:57 left in the game on a 2-yard Brian Ruiz touchdown and a 2-point conversion by quarterback Dante Nania.

Ruiz finished with 32 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown. Nania was 11 of 24 for 177 yards.

The game was hardly what Illinois wanted from its opener and the only FCS team on its schedule.

The Illini defensive line struggled to control the line of scrimmage. The inexperienced group of receivers Lunt will rely on was tightly covered for much of the game. Illinois fumbled the ball three times, losing one. And then there were the penalties, seven of them for 55 yards.

And Lunt, who hadn't played a football game for more than a season, was occasionally rusty.

But Illinois' late salvation came on Lunt's arm and two of those touchdowns.

The first one required the kind of luck that might not come along too often.

Leading 9-7 with 4:44 left in the third quarter, Youngstown needed less than a yard for a first down at the 50-yard line. The Penguins lined up to punt but punter Joey Cejudo rolled right on what looked like a fake. Apparently seeing no opening, the senior punter tried a low, rugby punt that hit a teammate in the back. The ball bounced back toward the goal line, rolling out of bounds at the Youngstown 35.

The Illini had the break they needed.

Lunt came out throwing, driving Illinois to the 8. From there he spotted freshman receiver Mikey Dudek running wide open in the right rear of the end zone for an easy touchdown, a lead and, finally, some relief.

Illinois was up 14-9 with 13:58 to play, but only briefly.

The Penguins struck back with a 61-yard pass from Nania to Andrew Williams. That set up a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Ruiz and a 2-point conversion by Nania that gave the Penguins a 17-14 edge.

But Lunt went to work again, driving the Illini down the field before finding Ferguson in the end zone. Up 21-17, Illinois finally had a lead that would stick.


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Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1914
Total Yards380363
3rd Down Conversions5-208-15
4th Down Conversions2-30-0

Passing Leaders

Dante Nania11/241777.400
Wes Lunt24/382857.540

Rushing Leaders

Martin Ruiz321163.6131
Dante Nania12463.8012
Josh Ferguson11423.808
Donovonn Young9394.3020

Receiving Leaders

Andrew Williams16161.0061
Jody Webb25628.0054
Mike Dudek36120.3149
Geronimo Allison24321.5042

Scoring Summary

FG0:00Joey Cejudo 33 Yd Field Goal 30
TD13:15Jon Davis 8 Yd pass from Wes Lunt (Taylor Zalewski Kick)37
FG0:00Joey Cejudo 29 Yd Field Goal 67
FG9:18Joey Cejudo 36 Yd Field Goal 97
TD13:58Mike Dudek 8 Yd pass from Wes Lunt (Taylor Zalewski Kick)914
TD10:57Martin Ruiz 2 Yd Run (Dante Nania Run for Two-Point Conversion)1714
TD8:50Josh Ferguson 15 Yd pass from Wes Lunt (Taylor Zalewski Kick)1721
TD2:33Martize Barr 29 Yd pass from Wes Lunt (Taylor Zalewski Kick)1728