4th Quarter Rally Falls Short As Illini Lose At Kansas

By IlliniGuys Staff

September 8, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Topeka Capital Journal)

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Luke Altmyer scored a pair of second half rushing touchdowns, but a late Illinois rally fell short as they lost their first road game of the season, 34-23 at Kansas.

The Illini (1-1) were playing in Lawrence for the first time since 1892 and, for much of the first half, it looked like they wouldn't top the four points scored by Illinois in that game.

Kansas (2-0) manhandled their visitors on both sides of the ball to build a 21-0 lead late in the 2nd quarter. At one point, the Jayhawks had 10 first downs to only two for Illinois.  The Illini responded by going with a quick-tempo, no-huddle offense and that resulted in an Altmyer to Tip Reiman four-yard touchdown pass that put the Illini on the scoreboard with 41 seconds left until halftime.

But the Jayhawks responded with a four-play, 75-yard drive in just 35 seconds as Daniel Hishaw Jr. rushed in from four yards out that allowed Kansas to take a commanding 28-7 lead into halftime.

After giving up 28 points and allowing 28 first downs and 410 yards against Toledo last week, the Illinois defense struggled again.  Kansas scoring 34 points, earning 26 first downs and gaining 528 yards on the night.  The 34 points are the most allowed by Illinois since a 42-17 loss at Virginia in September, 2021.

Kansas added a pair of field goals in the third quarter when the Illini offense caught fire.  Altmyer escaped the backfield on a 3rd down play and rushed 72 yards for a touchdown.  It was the second longest touchdown run by an Illinois quarterback, behind the 75 yarder by Gil Berry back in 1929.  The two-point conversion made it a 34-15 score, but Altmyer was knocked down on a targeting play by Austin Booker, who was ejected from the game.

But he returned to lead Illinois on another touchdown drive, as Altmyer took it in from six yards out.  Another two-point conversion and suddenly the Illini were within 34-23 with 8:08 to go.

That would be as close as they would get, as Altmyer threw an interception on their next drive and Kansas ran out the clock.

Altmyer ended up 19 for 28 for 202 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions.  The sophomore led Illinois in rushing for the second straight game with 70 yards on 13 carries.

Illinois returns home to face #7 Penn State next Saturday at Memorial Stadium (11am CT, FOX) in a rematch of the 2021 thriller when the Illini upset the Nittany Lions in an NCAA-record nine overtime game.  The Nittany Lions won their season opener against West Virginia last week and will host Delaware on Saturday.

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete post-game coverage from Lawrence.

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