CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – It took Chase Brown and Illinois just 41 seconds to secure all the points needed as the Illini opened the 2022 college football season with a 38-6 win over Wyoming on Aug. 27 in front of 37,832 fans at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Luckily for Illinois outcomes are not determined by style points.
Despite the 32-point win, it was not until the second half that the Illini began to pull away from a young Wyoming team that is the third youngest FBS team in the nation. A total of 96 of the 114 players on the Cowboy roster are either freshmen or sophomores this season.
And it showed at times as Wyoming allowed Illinois to score on the first series of the game. Peyton Vining took the opening kickoff and returned it 43 yards to the Illinois 48 to get the season underway.
Brown, a junior running back, rushed for 38 yards along the right sideline on the first offensive play of the game. He followed that up by catching a short pass from quarterback Tommy DeVito out of the backfield and turned it into a 14-yard scoring pass to put Illinois on the board 7-0 following Caleb Griffin’s conversion kick.
The visiting Cowboys’ young defense held Illinois in check for most of the first half following the inauspicious start to the game and Wyoming managed to close to within 7-3 on a 22-yard field goal from John Hoyland with just 34 seconds remaining in the first period. It would be as close as Wyoming would get the rest of the way.
Brown scored his second touchdown of the afternoon midway through the second quarter when he ran in standing up after bouncing off a would-be tackler from 11 yards out to extend the Illinois advantage to 14-3.
Hoyland connected on another field goal, this one coming from a career-best 46 yards out, at the 4:33 mark of the second quarter to make it 14-6 in favor of the Illini.
It turned out to be the final points of the day for Wyoming.
The Cowboys had trouble getting its offense untracked throughout the first half and were held to just 118 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes and only 14 of those yards came through the air as QB Andrew Peasley completed just two of 10 passes in the first half, along with one interception, but did run the ball efficiently as he compiled 69 yards on six carries (11.5 ypc) in the half.
Wyoming’s offense was forced to punt five times in the half after drives stalled and leaving the Cowboys frustrated. Illinois had to punt just two through the first 30 minutes of the game.
Illinois controlled the ball, and the clock, in the second half and tacked on three touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
Pat Bryant began the scoring burst by catching a pass from DeVito and tip-toed into the corner of the end zone from eight yards out with 2:56 left in the third period and Brown added his third score of the game on a five-yard run on the first play of the final period to extend the advantage to 31-6.
Reggie Love closed the scoring on an impressive 33-yard run that featured him being upended by a Wyoming defender. But, instead of falling to the turf, Love was able to bounce of the defender’s back without touching the turf before recovering to complete the jaunt into the end zone for the Illini.
Illinois finished the day with 477 yards of total offense, including 269 yards on the ground and 217 through the air.
Brown finished the game with a game-high 156 yards on 19 carries and two rushing touchdowns for the Illini. DeVito, meanwhile, completed 30 of 40 passes on the afternoon. Bryant paced the team with 44 yards on three receptions, while Brian Hightower caught four passes for 32 yards. Isaiah Williams was DeVito’s favorite target on the day and finished with seven catches for 26 yards. Teammate Casey Washington also had 26 yards on just three catches.
A total of 12 different receivers caught passes on the afternoon for Illinois.
Titus Swen was the leading rusher for Wyoming and finished the day with 98 yards on 17 carries and Peasley chipped in with 76 yards on eight carries to go along with his 5-of-20 passing for 30 yards.
Wyoming mustered only 212 yards of offense in the game and were limited to just 182 yards on the ground and 30 yards passing.
Illinois returns to action Sept. 2 when the Illini open Big Ten play on the road at Indiana. A pair of non-conference games follow against Virginia and Chattanooga, both at home, before Illinois returns to conference action by traveling to Wisconsin on Oct. 1 to take on the Badgers.
Wyoming, meanwhle, opens the home portion of its 2022 schedule on Sept. 3 when the Cowboys play host to Tulsa at War Memorial Stadium. Wyoming opens Mountain West Conference play on Sept. 16 at home against Air Force.
|1st||14:19||ILL – Brown,Chase 14 yd pass from Devito,Tommy (Griffin,Caleb kick) 2 plays, 52 yards, TOP 00:35||0||7|
|1st||00:34||WYO – Hoyland,John 22 yd field goal 8 plays, 70 yards, TOP 04:05||3||7|
|2nd||08:12||ILL – Brown,Chase 11 yd run (Griffin,Caleb kick), 6 plays, 59 yards, TOP 02:19||3||14|
|2nd||04:33||ILL – Griffin,Caleb 27 yd field goal 6 plays, 10 yards, TOP 02:13||3||17|
|3rd||12:15||WYO – Hoyland,John 46 yd field goal 7 plays, 47 yards, TOP 02:45||6||17|
|3rd||02:56||ILL – Bryant,Pat 8 yd pass from Devito,Tommy (Griffin,Caleb kick) 11 plays, 78 yards, TOP 05:06||6||24|
|4th||14:56||ILL – Brown,Chase 5 yd run (Griffin,Caleb kick), 5 plays, 44 yards, TOP 01:14||6||31|
|4th||06:49||ILL – Love III,Reggie 33 yd run (Griffin,Caleb kick), 7 plays, 70 yards, TOP 04:09||6||38|
WYO: Passing: Peasley,Andrew (30), Rushing: Swen,Titus (98), Receiving: Cobbs, Joshua (14)
ILL: Passing: Devito,Tommy (194), Rushing: Brown,Chase (151), Receiving: Bryant,Pat (44)
SITE: Champaign, Illinois
STADIUM: Memorial Stadium
KICKOFF TIME: 03:01 PM
END OF GAME: 06:32 PM
WIND: W 6mph
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.