Illini Live - Football

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois didn't waste any time and jumped on Akron early on the way to a 42-3 season-opening win on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Quarterback Brandon Peters was 14-of-23 for for 163 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for a touchdown.

Reggie Corbin and Ra'Von Bonner each also ran for a touchdown.

The defense held Akron to 192 total yards and forced two turnovers.

Another score for Peters

Brandon Peters found tight end Daniel Barker for a 2-yard touchdown pass and the Illini have this thing wrapped up with a 42-3 lead with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

It's Peters' third touchdown pass of the day, and he's 14-of-23 for 163 yards.

Peters with his second passing touchdown

Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters found tight end Justice Williams on a 9-yard touchdown pass to continue the offensive onslaught against Akron.

Peters is 10-of-18 with 136 yards and two touchdowns in his Illinois debut.

At the half

The Illinois football team has a commanding 28-3 lead at halftime against Akron.

After a shaky first defensive possession, the Illinois defense has stopped the Zips in their tracks. Illinois has two takeaways, a fumble that was both forced and recovered by Jake Hansen and an interception by Hansen. Illinois has eight tackles for a loss and four sacks.

Graduate transfer Oluwole Betiku has 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss. Hansen has seven tackles, half a sack and half a tackle for a loss. Akron has 96 yards of total offense.

The run game continues to be a strength for Illinois. The Illini have 134 rush yards and three rushing touchdowns — Reggie Corbin, Brandon Peters and Ra'Von Bonner.

Peters also is 6-of-14 for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Brandon Peters scores with his legs

At Big Ten Media Days in Chicago in July, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said Brandon Peters was a better runner than he gets credit for.

Consider that statement backed up. Peters ran in a 20-yard touchdown to give the Illini a commanding 28-3 lead over Akron with 2:04 left in the first half. The two-play drive was set up by a strong defensive stand, headlined by defensive ends Oluwole Betiku Jr. and Ayo Shogbonyo.

Defense sets up offense

Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen stripped Akron quarterback Kato Nelso, giving the Illini the ball at the Akron 24-yard line. Six plays later, Brandon Peters found Trevon Sidney in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

The offense is cruising right now. Illinois leads 21-3 with 14:56 left in the second quarter.

It was Peters' first touchdown pass as an Illini and Sidney's first reception as an Illini.

You get a carry, you get a carry, you get a carry

Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith isn't messing around. Four different running backs have a carry, and the running game was key for the Illini to march down the field on their second possession of the game for a touchdown.

Ra'Von Bonner scored from 10 yards out on third down to give Illinois a 14-3 lead over Akron with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

Illinois has 86 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Brandon Peters has been on the money. He's 4-of-6 for 62 yards.

The offense, apparently, is still strong.

Illini defense bends, but buckles down

Akron found gaps in the Illinois passing defense on its first offensive possession of the game, but the defense buckled down in the red zone, forcing Akron to settle for a 42-yard field goal. The Illini lead 7-3 with 6:29 left in the first quarter.

Akron advanced to the Illinois 11-yard line before back-to-back tackles for a loss by defensive end Oluwole Betiku Jr., and capped off by a big sack from Jake Hansen and Tymir Oliver. Hansen shot into the backfield, virtually untouched.

Not a perfect start for the defense, but it didn't completely break.

Corbin feats on first drive for a score

Illinois running back Reggie Corbin took the first three handoffs of the game and ran for 35 yards on five carries, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Illini a 7-0 lead over Akron with 11:53 left in the first quarter.

It was a flawless drive for Illinois, going 10 plays for 63 yards in 3 minutes, 7 seconds. Quarterback Brandon Peters was 2-for-3 for 28 yards. 

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QB — Brandon Peters

RB — Reggie Corbin

TE — Daniel Barker

WR — Ricky Smalling

WR — Dominic Stampley

WR — Josh Imatorbhebhe

LT — Vederian Lowe

LG — Kendrick Green

C — Doug Kramer

RG — Kendrick Green

RT — Alex Palczewski


DE — Oluwole Betiku Jr.

DT — Jamal Milan

DT — Jamal Woods

DE — Ayo Shogbonyo

LB — Jake Hansen

LB — Dele Harding

LB — Milo Eifler

CB — Nate Hobbs

CB — Quan Martin

S — Tony Adams

S — Kerby Joseph


K — James McCourt

P — Blake Hayes

LS — Ethan Tabel


McCourt beats out redshirt freshman Caleb Griffin for the team's starting kicker job.

Shogbonyo is a little surprising at defensive end, but expect to see a steady dose of Owen Carney Jr. and Isaiah Gay as Illinois rotates to keep the line fresh. Same goes for defensive tackle and Tymir Oliver and Kenyon Jackson.

Not many other surprises. Dominic Stampley was announced as the starting receiver in the slot, but Trevon Sidney, the graduate transfer from USC, should see the field frequently and be a factor in the pass game.

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Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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