(Saturday, September 13th)
Final Score: (24) Illinois 20, UL-Lafayette 17
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Daniel Dufrene gained 126 yards on 19 carries along with three catches for 24 yards and a score as 24th-ranked Illinois survived UL-Lafayette, 20-17, at Memorial Stadium.
Juice Williams completed 13-of-25 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and an interception for the Illini (2-1), who have won two in a row.
Michael Desormeaux threw for 200 yards on 25-of-35 passes and had a 34-yard TD run for the Ragin' Cajuns (0-2). Erik Jones added a late touchdown catch.
"I am really proud of our football team," said Cajuns head coach Rickey Bustle. "We came into a hostile environment to play, but our kids responded and gave our team a chance to win."
A scoreless third quarter left Illinois with a comfortable 14-point lead, but that was challenged later in the contest.
Dufrene's gallop into the end zone less than two minutes into the fourth was called back on a penalty, then the Illini failed to pick up any points on the drive as Dufrene was later halted on a 4th-and-1 at the Cajuns' 25.
The visitors came within 17-10 with 5:30 left in regulation as Desormeaux rumbled for a 34-yard touchdown, just getting the ball inside the left pylon as he fell out of bounds.
A nine-play, 52-yard drive followed for Illinois. Matt Eller drilled a 27-yard field goal with 1:36 to play for a 20-10 Illini advantage.
However, Desormeaux rallied his troops and quickly moved downfield, hitting Jones for a 11-yard TD strike with 18 seconds to play and a 20-17 game.
Illinois, though, recovered the onside kick and ran out the final seconds to escape with the win.
"A win's a win and obviously that's the bottom line, but we're not happy with the way we played and there's some things we've got to get fixed," said Illinois head coach Ron Zook.
Illinois got on the scoreboard first, as Eller's 51-yard field goal capped a six-play, 31-yard drive early in the first quarter.
It was 10-0 a little more than a minute later as Brit Miller stripped the ball from Desormeaux and returned it 27 yards for a score.
Drew Edmiston's 24-yard make capped a methodical 15-play, 73-yard march and put the Cajuns on the board just prior to the end of the period.
Williams' 10-yard strike to Dufrene put the Illini ahead 17-3 with 6:28 left in the half.
The home team was able to move the ball well late in the quarter, but a 17- point edge was not to be as Eller's 39-yard attempt with under a minute to play sailed into the wind and veered well to the left.
It was the first-ever meeting between the schools...The Illini defense recorded three sacks, two forced fumbles and made two fumble recoveries...Illinois next takes the field September 27 at Penn State, while UL-Lafayette hosts Kent State next Saturday.
09/13 22:59:05 ET