Illini, Lunt Survive Youngstown Scare, 28-17
By The Associated Press, With Additional Reporting from Rob McColley
It took a while but new quarterback Wes Lunt delivered a come-from-behind 28-17 win Saturday for Illinois over Youngstown State in a season opener.
Lunt threw three late touchdowns for Illinois. The second was a 15-yarder to running back Josh Ferguson that put Illinois up for good, 21-17.
Lunt finished the day 24 of 38 for 285 yards and four touchdowns. He used nine different receivers.
Lunt's highly anticipated debut after his transfer from Oklahoma State started slowly. The Illini had seven first downs by halftime and clung to a 7-6 lead.
"I think I was more anxious than anything," Lunt said. "And we're trying to do too much too early. Just not setting my feet, and not doing the little things that I've been doing (during training) camp."
Youngstown State was scheduled for the home opener to give Illinois an easy win, and that didn't happen.
'The first three quarters weren't anything of what we wanted to be as a football team," said Beckman. "From coaching down to playing, it's very important that we come out the gate faster than what we've been, really since I've been here."
The Penguins took a 17-14 lead with 10:57 left in the game on a 2-yard Brian Ruiz touchdown and a 2-point conversion by quarterback Dante Nania.
Ruiz finished with 32 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown. Nania was 11 of 24 for 177 yards.