CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The new look Illinois offense had no issues finding it’s stride in Game 1 of the 2022 season as Illinois rode the hot hand of Chase Brown to a 38-6 win over Wyoming (0-1).
“I knew going into the game that if we just trusted the game plan and the calls, [offensive coordinator] Barry Lunney Jr. was going to put us in positions to make plays and that’s exactly what happened today,” Brown said.
“I was a little nervous in seeing how explosive he would be but he just really plays behind his pads really well,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “A lot of times running backs jump the gun in their keys and reads but he’s really patient and playing at a high level.”
The Illini (1-0) wasted no time, after a long return on the opening kickoff by Peyton Vining, Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito found Brown for a 14-yard score. DeVito was able to sit in the final minutes of the game after a 27-for-37 outing with 194 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Fighting a lull after the first drive, Illinois found the endzone again midway through the second quarter when Brown scored from 11 yards out. The junior back ended with 151 yards on the day. With a field goal from Danville’s Caleb Griffin, Illinois had a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Cowboys added a field goal to begin the second half, but the Illini were spurred back to life by a DeVito pass to Pat Bryant for the sophomore’s first career touchdown. Brown added one more in the fourth quarter, and Reggie Love III also scored to seal the Illini win.
“Obviously it feels good, the only way that you can win games, you’ve got to go 1-0,” DeVito said. “You cannot look forward, doesn’t matter who you’re playing, faceless opponent, week in and week out.”
“I think we showed that we are building off what we left off last year,” linebacker Tarique Barnes said. “Everybody talks about how much better we got throughout the season and that’s just the start of it.”
Illinois now has a short week before opening it’s Big Ten opener at Indiana on Fri., Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.