You might be thinking, “Isn’t A. J.
Bush the Illini quarterback?” And the answer is yes he was. But
after getting shaken up in the first half Saturday night, M.J.
Rivers II, a freshman, popped off the bench and decided to take the
reigns of this football club. Even if A. J. returns to health it
might be hard to bump Rivers out as our chief signal caller.
He brought electricity and excitement as well as leadership guiding
the Illini to two touchdowns both passes to Edwin Carter, one an
18-yard touchdown tied the score, the other, a 16-yard touchdown put
Illinois out in front. That put Illinois up 14-7 at halftime and
they never lost the lead again.
The Illini racked up 293 rushing yards led by the explosive runs of
Mike Epstein. He rumbled for 105 yards on just 8 carries a whopping
13.1 yards per carry! Reggie Corbin also pitched in 63 tough yards
on 15 carries.
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In the second half the Illini built on their lead. They used the
3rd longest field goal in Illini history, a 54-yarder by Chase
McLaughlin, and a blocked punt by Dawson DeGroot that was
scooped up for a 2-yard score by Stanley Green to push the score
to 24-7 and they were never headed after that.
With the win over the Leathernecks the Illini move to 2-0 on the
young season. But the intensity will ratchet up significantly
this Saturday. Illinois will host the University of South
Florida at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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