Illini Game Notes

Pierre Thomas runs in winning touchdown in OT. Game stories to follow.

Illinois head coach Ron Zook became the first coach since Mike White in 1980 to win his inaugural game as Illinois head coach. Illinois head coaches are now 11-10-1 in their first games at Illinois.

Illinois had seven players start their first career game today. They were: Derek Walker at defensive end, Remond Willis at linebacker, Kevin Mitchell at safety, James Ryan at guard, Ryan McDonald at tackle, Tim Brasic at quarterback and Jody Ellis at wide receiver.

Illinois had four true-freshmen play in today's season opener. They were: Kyle Hudson at wide receiver, Britt Miller on special teams, Rodney Pittman on special teams, and Greg McClendon at tight end.

Illinois' comeback from a 27-7 deficit tied the mark for the biggest come-from-behind win in school history. Illinois came back from the same score (27-7) against Michigan in 1999 as they defeated the Wolverines 35-29.

This was Illinois' sixth overtime game ever. The last overtime game for Illinois was against Northwestern on November 20, 2004, as the Illini lost 28-21. Illinois' overall record in overtime games now stands at 3-3.

Tim Brasic's three touchdowns were the first time an Illinois quarterback threw for three touchdowns since Jon Beutjer against Purdue on September 25, 2004. Brasic's 233 yards marked the first time an Illinois quarterback passed for more than 200 yards since Beutjer threw for 215 against Purdue in 2004. Brasic's 77 yards on 18 rushes led the team, the first time an Illinois quarterback led the team in rushing since Ryan Menkhausen 31-yard performance on Oct. 24, 1987.

Redshirt freshman Jody Ellis had a 6-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, marking his first career TD. Ellis redshirted the 2004 season and was previously a safety, but converted to receiver during 2005 preseason camp.

With a four-yard run in the 1st quarter, E.B. Halsey reached 1,000 career yards, becoming the 32nd running back in school history to record 1,000-career yards. Halsey entered today's game with 986 career yards and had 50 yards today to improve to 1,036 career rushing yards.

Halsey's seven receptions tied a career high, last reached against Wisconsin on Sept. 27. 2003. Halsey's 13-yard touchdown catch that tied the game in the fourth quarter was his first touchdown reception since Michigan State on October 11, 2003.

Illinois becomes just the second school in the Big Ten to have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers on its current roster in Pierre Thomas (1,189 yards) and E.B. Halsey (1,036 yards). The Illini duo joins Purdue's Jerod Void and Brandon Jones in that group.

Pierre Thomas improved to sixth overall on Illinois' career kickoff return yardage list with 822 yards.

E.B. Halsey improved to ninth on Illinois' career punt return yardage list, increasing his total to 328

All six of Steve Weatherford's kickoffs reached the end zone today. Five were touchbacks and one was returned.

Chris Norwell's block of Rutgers kicker Jeremy Ito's 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was the first for Illinois since Christian Morton's blocked field goal against Purdue on October 4, 2003.

Rutgers running back Brian Leonard had an 83-yard TD run in the third quarter. That is the longest run at Memorial Stadium since the 2002 season when Illinois' Antoineo Harris had an 84-yard run vs. Purdue (Oct.

It also ties the 5th longest run in Memorial Stadium history, and is the second longest run ever by an opponent.

Rutgers reached the red zone three times in today's game and only came away with two field goals.

Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart's 342 yards passing marked the first time an opposing quarterback threw for over 300 yards since Purdue's Kyle Orton threw for 366 yards on September 25, 2004.

Today's attendance was 50,112 and $18,000 was raised for the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Instant Replay Update: Two plays were reviewed in today's game. One call was upheld and one call was overturned.

Post game story to follow

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