Illini end nonconference road losing streak 31-23 over UConn

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Brandon Peters set career highs, throwing for 225 yards and four touchdowns as Illinois overcame an early 13-point deficit to beat UConn 31-23 on Saturday.

It was the first non-conference road win for the Illini (2-0) in a dozen years.

Jakari Norwood had 62 yards to lead a rushing attack that accounted for 130 yards.

Freshman Jack Zergiotis, making his first start, completed 21 of 31 passes for 275 yards for the Huskies (1-1).

UConn, a three touchdown underdog, jumped out to an early lead when defensive back Tyler Coyle stepped in front of a Brandon Peters pass in the first quarter and returned it down the left sideline 52 yards. Clayton Harris added two early field goals.

But Ra’Von Bonner got the Illini rolling, taking a screen pass and weaving 28 yards down the right side for a score. That was the first of three second quarter touchdown passes for Peters, the Michigan transfer, and the Illini put up 24 unanswered points.

Illinois fumbled its first handoff after a 68-yard second half kickoff return from Dre Brown and UConn drove 59 yards, getting back in the game when Kevin Mensah dove into the end zone from 2 yards out.

But an interception by Dele Harding stopped a late UConn drive to preserve the win.

THE TAKEAWAY

Illinois: Illinois’ last win on the road outside the Big Ten came in 2007 at Syracuse. The only other regular season nonconference road win this century was in 2001, at Califrnia.

UConn: The Huskies have lost 17 straight games to FBS opponents. Their last win against the Bowl Subdivision came on Oct. 21, 2017 against Tulsa.

UP NEXT

Illinois: The Illini return home to take on Eastern Michigan next Saturday

UConn: The Huskies have an early bye week before facing another Big Ten opponent, traveling to Indiana for a game on Sept. 21.

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