EIU no match for Juice, Illini
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Juice Williams carried the Illini offense with his arm and legs, running for a school-record 174 yards and throwing for 124 more in 24th-ranked Illinois' 47-21 rout of Eastern Illinois.
Williams scored two touchdowns on the ground and tossed another through the air for the Illini (1-1), who responded from their loss to Missouri last weekend. Daniel Dufrene ran for 99 yards, Mikel Leshoure added 49 on the ground and wide receiver Arrelious Benn scored twice with 48 yards on the ground.
The Illini accumulated 399 yards rushing and finished with 533 total yards.
"It spreads the defense out and gives them one more thing to think about," said Williams of his scrambling ability. "It obviously helps open up holes for the running backs and when you establish the run, we can throw the ball over their heads."
Travorus Bess rushed for a game-best 183 yards and quarterback Bodie Reeder finished 7-for-17 for 102 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Panthers (0-2), who were 19-point losers at Central Michigan in their opener.
"As I told our team just now, we paid our dues and by that I mean we played our bowl subdivision teams and now we get back to our level," said Eastern Illinois coach Bob Spoo. "There's no question we've been outmatched over these past two weeks."
Illinois seized the early lead by converting off an Eastern Illinois turnover. After an interception, the Illini marched 34 yards on four plays capped by Williams' 16-yard TD strike to Chris Duvalt.
Eastern Illinois wasted no time evening the score with a three-play, 66-yard march. Bess ran through a huge hole in the middle of the Illini defense for 55 yards to the 11-yard line. Desmin Ward finished it off with a five-yard scoring plunge with 9:20 remaining in the period.
Williams was intercepted on the next drive, but EIU missed a 52-yard field goal attempt for the lead. Illinois kept the football on the ground during a time-consuming, 14-play, 62-yard march to the lead.
Six of the first seven plays were on the ground, including a 12-yard burst by Leshoure. Williams found Benn for 13 yards to move the chains on 3rd-and-6 later in the series, but the drive stalled short on the end zone with Matt Eller's 21-yard boot.
Eller's 42-yard field goal on the next Illini possession pushed the edge to 13-7. Illinois fumbled a punt return a few minutes later on its own 15-yard line, but Eastern Illinois went for a first down on 4th-and-1 from the six- yard line and was stuffed for a turnover on downs.
Illinois then grabbed all of the momentum with a nine-play, 93-yard touchdown drive. Williams and Dufrene each busted out 11-yard runs and the duo ran for 12 and 26 yards respectively a few plays later. Williams' seven-yard touchdown scamper capped the march, but a two-point conversion attempt failed.
The Illini scored again on their next series with Williams slipping into the end zone from one yard away for a 26-7 lead.
After halftime, an eight-play, 87-yard march pushed the game into blowout territory. Williams ran for 31 and 11 yards on the march, which was capped by Benn's four-yard stretch run off the end.
Dere Hicks intercepted a pass on the next possession and returned it to the EIU 13-yard line. Benn struck quickly with a 13-yard burst off the edge for a touchdown and a 40-7 lead.
Troy Pollard's 25-yard touchdown run made the score 47-7, but Eastern Illinois scored twice late to make the score respectable. Reeder threw a 17-yard scoring strike to Lorence Ricks and Irvin Jean-Charles returned a fumble nine yards for the final score.
Illinois converted on 8-of-12 third-down chances...Benn caught seven passes for 36 yards...Will Judson caught just one pass for nine yards after racking up 177 yards and two touchdowns on five catches for the Illini against Missouri.
09/06 20:29:40 ET