CRAWFORD | Three and out: Illinois 42, WKU 34 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Three and out: Illinois 42, WKU 34

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WDRB) -- It wasn't the kind of turnover-fest that buried WKU last season at Tennessee, but giveaways at inopportune times and places stopped the Hilltoppers' upset bid at Illinois and ended their winning streak at five games.

A mishandled punt early and a Pick-6 interception in the fourth quarter gave the Illini all the boost they needed to move to 2-0 with a 42-34 victory. But WKU had its chances -- and in fact did some damage with takeaways of its own.

Brandon Doughty completed 28 of 48 passes for 297 yards but the Hilltoppers were outgained 522-400, and in the end couldn't stop Illinois through the air.

Three quick takeaways:

1). GIVE AND TAKE. WKU's first mistake -- a fumbled punt snap after its first possession, gave Illinois the ball in Hilltopper territory and the Illini scored four plays later. Still, WKU regrouped and held a lead going into the half, and after Illinois pulled ahead 21-17 on its first possession of the second half, defensive back Wonderful Terry gave WKU the lead back when he scooped up a fumble and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown.

Prince Charles Iworah intercepted a Wes Lunt pass and returned it to the Illinois 7-yard line, giving WKU a chance to go up by 10 late in the third quarter, but the Hilltoppers had to settle for a 19-yard field goal by Garrett Schwettman. WKU had a 27-21 lead, but Illinois would score then next 21 straight.

Illinois took the lead back on its next possession on a 62-yard scoring pass from Lunt to Justin Hardee. An interception of Brandon Doughty by Taylor Barton, who returned it 77 yards for the touchdown, put Illinois up for good. A Doughty fumble which Illinois recovered at the WKU 20 with 4:02 left sealed it, despite a late scoring drive by WKU.

2). AIR DEFENSE. In the second half, after struggling with the ground game, Illinois went to five wide receivers and simply went to work on the WKU secondary, eating up large chunks of yardage on passes into the flat and doing damage with a couple of deep strikes down the middle. Lunt had thrown for 456 yards and three touchdowns.

3). LEON ALLEN CARRIED THE FIRST-HALF LOAD. Illinois couldn't find an answer for the WKU junior running back in the first half. He had 19 carries for 112 yards at the break, but the Illini spent some time scheming against him at halftime. He carried only five times for six net yards in the second half,

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