(AP) Illinois started slow but used 100-yard receiving days from A.J. Jenkins and Darius Millines to open the season with a 33-15 win over Arkansas State on Saturday. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for a career-best 267 yards. His 16 completions went to Jenkins, who had 11 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown, and Millines, who caught five balls for 199 yards and a score. Jason Ford rushed for 86 yards and two TDs. The Red Wolves led 8-7 with less than three minutes left in the first half on a safety and a pair of field goals. But Illinois answered with Millines’ touchdown and a field goal before halftime. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and check out our Big Ten schedule.
Check out our quarter-by-quarter Rapid Recap, courtesy of Narrative Science:
FINAL: Nathan Scheelhaase found A.J. Jenkins frequently, as both helped Illinois notch a 33-15 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Scheelhaase hit Jenkins for 150 yards on 11 catches during the win. The Fighting Illini operated their air game to perfection in dismantling the Red Wolves’ defense. Illinois’ air attack couldn’t be contained, as it torched Arkansas State for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Home run plays keyed the Fighting Illini’s scoring attack. Illinois had five plays of 20 yards or more on its way to victory. With 14:43 to go in the third quarter, Scheelhaase tossed a 72-yard touchdown to Jenkins, the Fighting Illini’s longest play on the day. The long touchdown gave Illinois a 23-8 lead. Scheelhaase threw for 268 yards while going 16-23 for the Fighting Illini. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions. Scheelhaase also ran for 23 yards on 12 attempts. Ryan Aplin threw for 298 yards while completing 20 of 32 passes for the Red Wolves. He also threw one interception. Aplin had a trusted receiver in Taylor Stockemer. He hauled in five catches for 86 yards. Arkansas State’s offense finished the game having gained 352 yards. Along with Aplin’s stats in the passing game, the Red Wolves posted just 54 yards rushing on 29 attempts.
FOURTH QUARTER: Illinois’ three big plays led to three points and the Fighting Illini kept the game out of reach for a 33-15 victory over Arkansas State. Illinois made its lead 33-8 when Derek Dimke made a 19-yard field goal on the last play of a 15-play, 95-yard drive. The Fighting Illini had to settle for a field goal after failing to reach the endzone from the Red Wolves’ two-yard line. Pass plays were an afterthought for Illinois, as the Fighting Illini threw just two passes. Arkansas State made the score 33-15 after Frankie Jackson ran one yard to paydirt to finish off a a 72-yard drive. Illinois’ Darius Millines went over 100 yards receiving for the game in the quarter, he finished with 118 yards receiving overall. The Red Wolves’ Dwayne Frampton went over 100 yards receiving for the game in the quarter, he finished with 109 yards receiving overall.
THIRD QUARTER: Illinois looks to be in control of the game as it leads 30-8 at the end of the third quarter. The Fighting Illini’s passing attack looked sharp, as Illinois threw for 119 yards in the quarter. Illinois added to its advantage when Nathan Scheelhaase tossed a 72-yard touchdown to A.J. Jenkins capping off a four-play, 71-yard drive to give the Fighting Illini a 23-8 lead. Illinois expanded its lead to 30-8 thanks to 16-play 74-yard drive that ended when Jason Ford pounded in a three-yard touchdown run. The Fighting Illini’s Scheelhaase went over 200 yards passing for the game in the quarter, he now has 231 yards passing in the game. Illinois’ Jenkins went over 150 yards receiving for the game in the quarter, he now has 150 yards receiving in the game. Arkansas State’s Ryan Aplin went over 200 yards passing for the game in the quarter, he now has 224 yards passing in the game. The Red Wolves will start the fourth quarter with the ball on the Fighting Illini’s four-yard line.
SECOND QUARTER: Illinois aired it out in the second quarter, finishing with 104 passing yards and the Fighting Illini now lead 17-8. Arkansas State closed to 7-2 when it recorded a safety. Brian Davis’ 47-yard field goal gave Arkansas State an 8-7 lead and was the final play of a seven-play, 35-yard drive. The Red Wolves only looked to the running game for one carry. Nathan Scheelhaase’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Darius Millines put the Fighting Illini on top 14-8 after capping a five-play, 80-yard drive. Illinois relied on a run play just one time. The Fighting Illini added to their advantage when Derek Dimke made a 32-yard field goal capping off a six-play, 25-yard drive to give Illinois a 17-8 lead. Illinois will receive to start the second half.
FIRST QUARTER: Illinois leads 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but Arkansas State continues to hang around and refuses to bow out. The Fighting Illini took the game’s first lead after Jason Ford turned a handoff into a 15-yard touchdown on the last play of a 13-play, 70-yard drive to give Illinois a 7-0 advantage. Pass plays were an afterthought for the Fighting Illini, as Illinois threw just two passes. The Red Wolves will start the second quarter with possession on their 32-yard line.