E Illinois 17

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Illinois 42

(1-0, 1-0 home)

7:00 PM ET, September 2, 2006

Memorial Stadium (Champaign, IL), Champaign, IL

1 2 3 4 T
EIU 0 14 0 317
ILL 14 14 7 742

Top Performers

Passing: T. Brasic (ILL) - 149 YDS

Rushing: P. Thomas (ILL) - 15 CAR, 126 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: M. Rucker (EIU) - 4 REC, 105 YDS, 1 TD

Illinois 42, Eastern Illinois 17

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Tim Brasic threw for 149 yards and Pierre Thomas rushed for 126 yards on 15 carries as Illinois snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 42-17 victory over Eastern Illinois in the first-ever game between the schools.

Thomas and Rashard Mendenhall scored two touchdowns each as the Illini had 519 yards of offense, rushing for six touchdowns and more than 300 yards for the first time since a 63-21 win over Virginia in the 1999 Bowl. E.B. Halsey rushed for 82 yards, including a 39-yard TD run, and Brasic scored from 4 yards out.

Mendenhall rushed for 75 yards on 10 carries as Illinois (1-0), opening its second season under Ron Zook, broke a losing skid that stretched back to last season's third game.

Division I-AA Eastern Illinois (0-1) played the game without head coach Bob Spoo, who had surgery earlier in the week and is expected to miss four to six weeks. The Panthers scored on a 20-yard pass from Mike Donato to Micah Rucker and a 33-yard flanker option pass from Justin Duhai to Ryan Voss, and Zach Yates added a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Eastern's night took a nasty turn on the opening kickoff when linebacker Clint Sellers, last season's defensive player of the year in the Ohio Valley Conference, injured his right shoulder tackling Halsey. Sellers lay motionless on the turf for several minutes before he walked slowly off the field. He did not return.

Without Sellers in the game, Brasic found the middle of the field to his liking, leading the Illini on scoring drives of 90, 83, 80 and 54 yards. His longest throw of the night was a 25-yard completion to Derrick McPhearson in the third quarter.

The Illini got a glimpse of the future when freshman quarterback Isiah "Juice" Williams entered the game to start the second quarter and took the team on a 12-play, 61-yard TD march, punctuated by his own 9-yard run and a 16-yard pass to Mendenhall, whose 1-yard plunge gave Illinois a 21-7 lead.

However, Williams fumbled at his own 33 on the first play of Illinois' next possession and Eastern scored two plays later on Duhai's throw to Voss to close to 21-14 before Brasic came back and led the final two scoring drives. Williams also played the fourth quarter for Illinois.

Donato completed 8-of-14 passes for 134 yards for Eastern, which went undefeated in the Ohio Valley Conference last season and brought back 16 starters.