You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Illinois routs Chattanooga 31-0 for best start since 2015

Associated Press – Sports logo Associated Press – Sports 9/23/2022 By GAVIN GOOD, Associated Press
Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito smiles as he gives a television interview after the team's 31-0 win over Chattanooga in an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito smiles as he gives a television interview after the team's 31-0 win over Chattanooga in an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Chase Brown became the first Illinois running back to rush for 100-plus yards in five straight games, Tommy DeVito passed for 329 yards and three touchdowns and the Fighting Illini blanked Chattanooga 31-0 on Thursday night.

Illinois' Seth Coleman (49) and Jer'Zhan Newton sack Chattanooga quarterback Preston Hutchinson during the second half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois' Seth Coleman (49) and Jer'Zhan Newton sack Chattanooga quarterback Preston Hutchinson during the second half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Illinois improved to 3-1 and is off to its best start since 2015.

Brown capped a five-play, 64-yard scoring drive with a 9-yard touchdown run after the defense forced Chattanooga (3-1) into a three-and-out on its first drive.

He finished with 108 rushing yards on 20 carries and currently leads all FBS rushers with 604 yards through four games.

Illinois defensive lineman Keith Randolph Jr. (88) sacks Chattanooga quarterback Preston Hutchinson during the second half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois defensive lineman Keith Randolph Jr. (88) sacks Chattanooga quarterback Preston Hutchinson during the second half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The closest the Mocs came to scoring came early in the second quarter when they drove to the Illinois 16-yard line. Jartavius Martin picked off a Preston Hutchinson pass in the end zone to end the Mocs' threat.

The Illini recorded their first shutout since a 2015 win over Western Illinois.

Illinois wide receiver Isaiah Williams turns the corner on Chattanooga defensive back Cardavion Myers and heads to the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois wide receiver Isaiah Williams turns the corner on Chattanooga defensive back Cardavion Myers and heads to the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chattanooga went just 4 of 14 on third downs and gained 142 total yards. Illinois piled up 502 yards of offense.

Illinois defensive back Jartavius Martin (21) intercepts a pass intended for Chattanooga wide receiver Tyron Arnett in the end zone during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois defensive back Jartavius Martin (21) intercepts a pass intended for Chattanooga wide receiver Tyron Arnett in the end zone during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hutchinson was sacked four times and completed just 6 of 18 passes for 49 yards with two interceptions.

Illinois nearly quadrupled Chattanooga's total first-half yardage, 332 yards to 84 yards, and led 24-0 at intermission.

Thursday night marked the first time in Illinois football history that two receivers tallied more than 100 receiving yards and a running back ran for more than 100 yards in the same game. Pat Bryant caught six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, while Isaiah Williams hauled in nine passes for 103 yards and a score.

Williams’ 63-yard touchdown off a screen pass made it 31-0 with 4:56 left in the third.

DeVito became the first Illinois quarterback to pass for more than 300 yards in a game since Brandon Peters threw for 369 yards at Michigan State in 2019.

Ailym Ford rattled off runs of 39 and 32 yards for the Mocs’ biggest gains of the night. He finished with 93 yards on 17 carries.

Andrew Southard missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt early in the third quarter after Ford's 32-yard run took the Mocs into Illini territory.

Chattanooga coach Rusty Wright gestures along a sideline during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Illinois on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Chattanooga coach Rusty Wright gestures along a sideline during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Illinois on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Caleb Griffin kicked a 34-yard field goal to put Illinois up 10-0 in the first quarter.

Illinois running back Chase Brown breaks into the open during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Chattanooga on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois running back Chase Brown breaks into the open during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Chattanooga on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

THE TAKEAWAY

Illinois: The Illini prepared well for a better-than-usual FCS opponent and dominated accordingly to set themselves up in good position to make a bowl appearance with two-thirds of the schedule left. Illinois is a step or two away from contending in a wide-open Big Ten West thanks to stellar defense and a much improved passing attack with new offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. making the calls.

Illinois wide receiver Pat Bryant (13) advances the ball off a pass from quarterback Tommy DeVito as Chattanooga's CaMiron Smith (5) and Marlon Taylor pursue during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois wide receiver Pat Bryant (13) advances the ball off a pass from quarterback Tommy DeVito as Chattanooga's CaMiron Smith (5) and Marlon Taylor pursue during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chattanooga: The Mocs can chalk this one up to talent differential and short rest after a strong start to their campaign. Rusty Wright's group could be in the mix for the Southern Conference title in November.

UP NEXT

Chattanooga: The Mocs visit East Tennessee State on Oct. 1.

Illinois: Bret Bielema returns to his old stamping grounds when the Illini play at Wisconsin on Oct. 1.

Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Chattanooga on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Chattanooga on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP's college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25.

Chattanooga running back Ailym Ford breaks into the open during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Illinois on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chattanooga running back Ailym Ford breaks into the open during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Illinois on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
© Provided by Associated Press – Sports
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Associated Press – Sports

Associated Press – Sports
Associated Press – Sports
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon