CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Nathan Scheelhaase threw for career-best 416 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to lead Illinois to a 42-34 win over Southern Illinois. But the Illini had to hang on late to beat the Football Championship Subdivision School.
Trailing 42-34 with 44 seconds to play and fourth down at the Illini 3-yard line Saluki quarterback Kory Faulkner threw too high for leaping wideout Adam Fuehne.
Illinois was up 42-24 with as little as 12 minutes left.
The Illini offense was mostly Scheelhaase. He was 28 for 36 with one interception, and his second-quarter touchdown passes to Jon Davis and Josh Ferguson built a 25-7 halftime lead.
Ryan Lankford caught six passes for 115 yards and Ferguson had four for another 103 yards on a hot, muggy afternoon.
The temperature hit 95 and the heat index 108. Big Ten officials said one linesman, Bob Davis, was hospitalized for heat exhaustion. His condition wasn't immediately available but a conference spokesman said Davis was alert and speaking with doctors just after the game.
Beyond Scheelhaase and the Illinois passing attack, there had to be cause for concern among the Illini.
The Salukis, a six-win FCS team in 2012, struck easily against a young Illinois secondary. Faulkner was 25 for 40 for 312 yards and three touchdowns, and was never sacked or even heavily pressured.
And the Illini offensive line had a rough afternoon. Illinois had just 49 rushing yards on 30 carries against a small Southern Illinois defense, and the Salukis had five sacks.
After falling behind 7-3 and sending a wave of anxiety through the crowd of 42,000, Scheelhaase' first touchdown pass put the Illini up to stay. He tossed a short pass to Ferguson, who weaved past a Saluki defender to the right sideline for a 53-yard score and a 10-7 lead with 9:31 left in the first half.
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