Illinois starts slow but beats Arkansas State 33-15 Saturday

Champaign, IL (ASU) – The Arkansas State football team put up 350 yards of total offense but dropped their season opener 33-15 at Illinois Saturday afternoon. The announced crowd of 45,154 helped to usher in the Hugh Freeze era at Arkansas State. 

Frankie Jackson scored the only touchdown of the game for the Red Wolves with 3:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. Jackson led ASU with 39 yards on the ground.

Dwayne Frampton led ASU with 99 yards receiving while Red Wolves quarterback Ryan Aplin went 20-32 for 290 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. Stockemer had 87 receiving yards for A-State.

Neely Sullivent set up the Red Wolves' first score of the contest when he pinned Illinois down on their own one yard line with a career-long 67 yard punt. On the next play, Amos Draper dropped Illinois running back Jason Ford a yard deep in the Illini end zone giving the Red Wolves a safety and cutting the Illinois lead to five, 7-2, at the 14:02 mark of the second quarter.

ASU took the lead with a pair of career-long field goals to go up 8-7 in the second quarter. First, Bobby Zalud kicked a career-long 49-yard field goal, which tied the ninth longest in Arkansas State history.

Zalud's attempt was followed up by a 47-yard field goal, also a career-long, from Brian Davis which put ASU on top for the first time in the contest with 2:50 remaining in the half.

IU quarter back Nathan Scheelhasse completed a pass to Darius Millines for a 45-yard score to retake the lead with 1:24 left in the half for the Illini, 14-8.

Aplin then was intercepted by Trulon Henry at the ASU 40-yardline off a deflection. The interception set up a 32-yard field goal by Derek Dimke to give Illinois a 17-8 advantage at the break.

Scheelhasse connected with AJ Pickens for a 72-yard strike on the second play from scrimmage in the second half for a 72-yard score. The failed two-pt conversion gave the Illini a 23-8 lead.

A three-yard touchdown run from Ford with 5:44 remaining in the third quarter put Illinois up 30-8, following the PAT. The touchdown capped a 14-play 74-yard drive that ate up 6:44 on the clock; it was the fourth-straight scoring drive for Illinois following the Arkansas State lead.

Frampton picked up a career-long 65-yard reception from Aplin in the third quarter. Two plays later, Aplin took the ball down to the three yard line as the third quarter expired. ASU was unable to put the ball in the end zone from the three, turning the ball over on downs at the 13:55 mark of the fourth.

Defensively, Nathan Herrold, Kelcie McCray and Justin Robertson led the Red Wolves with eight tackles each. Brandon Joiner, Elroy Brown and Don Jones each had a quarterback sack for A-State.

The Red Wolves open their home slate hosting Memphis on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.