Illinois rolls to win over San Jose St.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Tim Brasic, Pierre Thomas and E.B. Halsey scored first-quarter touchdowns as Illinois erased an early deficit and beat San Jose State 40-19 on Saturday.

Thomas' touchdown was set up by a 27-yard interception return by Remond Willis.

A week after allowing 517 yards to Rutgers, Illinois held the Spartans to just 15 rushing and 231 total on the way to a 2-0 record for the first time since its Big Ten championship season in 2001. The Illini also stopped San Jose five times from inside the 2, including throwing Spartans running back Yonus Davis for a 4-yard loss on fourth down in the second quarter.

Brasic also ran 25 yards for a score in the third quarter and completed 17 of 22 passes for 199 yards before giving way to backup Chris Pazan. Jason Reda kicked field goals of 26, 33, 21 and 45 yards for Illinois, which led 37-7 after three quarters.

Thomas rushed for 79 yards on 14 carries, Halsey carried 16 times for 75 yards, and the Illini had 492 total yards, their second straight game with more than 400.

The Illini fell behind 7-0 just three minutes in after the Spartans blocked a punt at the Illinois 19, and Spartans quarterback Adam Trafalis scored three plays later from 6 yards out. It was the first time Steve Weatherford had a punt blocked in 131 attempts.

But the Illini came back with an 11-play, 76-yard drive, highlighted by a 25-yard pass from Brasic to Franklin Payne to convert on third-and-4. Brasic scored from 2 yards, and Reda's kick tied the game.

On the third play of the next series, Trafalis' pass bounced off James Jones into the hands of Illinois linebacker Remond Willis, who returned it to the San Jose 2. Thomas scored on the next play.

John Broussard's 71-yard return with the ensuing kickoff was brought back by a holding penalty, and the Spartans failed to get a first down. The Illini got the ball back and marched 58 yards in 11 plays with Halsey scoring from 1 yard on the last play of the quarter to make it 21-7.

Reda's first two field goals put Illinois up 27-7 at halftime.

San Jose's Trestin George scored on a 96-yard kickoff return, and Jared Strubeck kicked field goals of 22 and 36 yards in the fourth quarter.

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