Illinois Rolls Past Miami (OH) 50-14
By Jeff Bossert, with Additional Reporting from the Associated Press
The Fighting Illini scored mounted 601 yards of total offense en route to a 50-14 rout of Miami (Ohio) Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Nathan Sheelhaase threw for 278 yards, including five touchdowns, and the Illini (3-1) scored 29 points in the second quarter to put the game out of reach on Dad’s Day at the University of Illinois.
“There were some great touchdowns, and there were great runs, and great tackles, but it was the lead-up plays to me (that led to the win.)” said Coach Tim Beckman.
One of those plays Beckman referred to came early in the second quarter, after the Illini recovered an onside kick, Scheelhaase found Josh Ferguson with a screen pass. The tailback scooted 15 yards, running through a would-be tackle by Brison Burris on the way to increasing the lead to 22-0 with 12:06 left in the half.
For Illinois, the blowout meant the third win of the season came early. A year ago, the Illini never win No. 3, finishing 2-10 and closing with nine straight losses.
Illinois opens the Big Ten season – where Illinois was winless last year – next Saturday at Nebraska. But the Illini never appeared to look past the struggling RedHawks.
With the game in hand, Scheelhaase took a seat on the bench in the third quarter, finishing 19 of 24 for 278 yards with one interception.
“If you call it a preseason, when you talk about being 3-1 and having opportunities to really be 4-0 if you can make a couple more plays and do some other things better,” said Beckman. “I’m happy with the way that we’ve moved forward and now the real time comes – conference play, and that’s what you work for, and prepare for every year.”
The RedHawks didn’t get on the board until late in third quarter, and even that one didn’t come easy.
Facing a fourth-and-goal at the Illini 1-yard line, Boucher rolled right and hit receiver Rokeem Williams in the back corner of the end zone. Williams held the ball for an instant before Illinois cornerback Jaylen Dunlap punched the ball free and it hit the ground.
The official behind Williams waited a long second before signaling a touchdown. The play was upheld by a review but an Illini crowd enjoying the blowout booed long and loud.