NCAA FB

Illinois routs South Dakota State 56-3

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)

South Dakota State has two more games this season in Illinois but after Saturday, you couldn't blame the Jackrabbits if they didn't come back.

Illinois rolled up 519 yards and held the Jackrabbits to 96 in a 56-3 rout.

Jackrabbits quarterback Thomas O'Brien was held to 37 yards on 8-of-18 passing with two interceptions, while the Illini (2-0) limited FCS member South Dakota State (1-1) to 25 rushing yards on 24 carries.

''We never got any momentum,'' South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier said. ''We got one stop on defense, but after that it was a long day. When they ran the option, I mean holy nutmeg.''

Steigelmeier's biggest option-related headache was quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who rushed for 93 yards and a pair of touchdowns on nine carries before taking a seat on the sideline in the third quarter with the game out of hand.

But there was no shortage of Illini heroes.

Reserve tailback Troy Pollard piled up 101 yards and scored a TD. Freshman tailback Donovonn Young had 65 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

South Dakota State's highlight reel consisted of a 33-yard field goal by Kyle Harris in the second quarter that trimmed the Illini lead to 28-3, and punter Jason Schlautman.

Schlautman punted a lot - seven times - and averaged 51 yards a kick.

Illinois hadn't won this big since 1944, a 79-6 crushing of Illinois-Normal played in front of 5,000 fans.

The 42,000 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday saw the Illini score on seven consecutive drives between their first possession early in the opening quarter and a punt with 22 seconds left in the third, when they were already up by a comfy 46 points.

''Just too many mental mistakes and we didn't tackle as a team,'' Jackrabbit defensive back Skyler Luxa said. ''It has to be better if you play a team like them. They are a great team and we just didn't step up for the occasion.''

Those return trips to Illinois - Sept. 24 at Illinois State and Nov. 12 at Western Illinois - will follow next week's game at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Minutes after Saturday's loss, Stiegelmeier was already trying to get the Jackrabbits to put it behind them.

''I'm disappointed for our players but I expect us to rebound,'' he said, adding that after studying film Sunday and evaluating players, ''we're going to be done with this football game.''

Jason Ford is Illinois' starter at tailback and had 48 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, but Young showed why there's a serious buzz about the Houston native in Champaign.

His first touchdown was a short one that looked easy, 2 yards behind a big block by fullback Jay Prosch, with 3:58 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. It was important not just for the team but for Young, Zook said.

''You get that experience, and it helps you,'' Zook said. ''Getting that big play, you feel good about yourself, you work a little harder, you do a little more, and you get a little better.''

That showed in Young's second score.

The 215-pound back took a handoff from Scheelhaase at the Jackrabbits 41 with just under two minutes left in the first half and burst through a hole opened by Prosch on the left, running through four would-be tackles on his way to the end zone and a 35-3 lead. South Dakota State linebacker Mike Lien had perhaps the best shot at Young a few yards past the line of scrimmage, but found himself on his stomach grasping at air where Young's lower leg had been, watching the freshman sprint toward the goal line.

Illinois' defense never gave South Dakota State serious reason to believe it could compete with the Illini.

The Jackrabbits had just 54 yards of offense at halftime. They didn't manage a first down until the second quarter and had just six of them for the game. A week after the Jackrabbits ran for 162 yards in a win over Southern Utah, South Dakota had 25 yards on the ground against Illinois.

One of Illinois' interceptions was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Trulon Henry and the other set up a late scoring pass by backup quarterback Reilly O'Toole to Evan Wilson.

That kind of domination, no matter the margin or the opponent, is impressive, Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said.

''In today's college football, you do what we did against anybody, you probably don't feel too bad about it,'' he said.

Tagged: Illinois, Donovonn Young, Jason Schlautman

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