Illini win game one
Illini get the season rolling with a victory 42-34
August 31, 2013
CHAMPAIGN — Nathan Scheelhaase got things started a\early and that was enough for the teams first win of the season, Saturday’s 42-34 over visiting Southern Illinois. He also threw for a career-high 416 passing yards under the revamped offense and his performance was enough to avoid a late charge from the Salukis.
“The biggest thing is just feeling excited about a win,” said Scheelhaase, who completed 28 of 36 passes with two touchdowns as Illinois broke a nine-game skid. “To be able to come out feeling good about what happened, that’s the biggest thing rather than how many yards we threw for.”
Saturday’s game actually wasn’t decided until SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner sailed a pass from the 3 too high for tight end Adam Fuehner in the end zone on the final play. The Salukis nearly overcame a 22-point, late third-quarter deficit and could have forced overtime.
V’Angelo Bentley’s school record-tying 100-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter along with Josh Ferguson’s 53-yard yard touchdown catch off a screen pass in the second were two big plays the Illini sorely needed to avoid embarrassment. One could imagine the fallout had the Illini found a way to lose, particularly with second-year coach Tim Beckman already feeling heat after last season’s 2-10 record.
“Although it was not the most glorious win, I was very proud of the way the team fought,” Beckman said. “There’s no question we have to make some strides.”
“We’re here to win. We’re here to score points,” Beckman said. “We’re here to do what we need to do to be successful.
“We might have thought that we’d take a knee and run out the (half). We ain’t doing that anymore. We’re here to win.”
The mentality around Illinois football obviously has changed and many people are looking forward to seeing more from them over the season.
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