Caleb Griffin kicked a game-winning 29-yard field goal with five seconds left and Luke Altmyer passed for 211 yards and two touchdowns to boost host Illinois to a season-opening 30-28 victory against Toledo on Saturday in Champaign, Ill.
A 12-play, 64-yard drive gave Illinois the victory against a Rockets team that led by as many as 12 but never trailed by more than one possession.
Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn scored on a go-ahead, 1-yard touchdown run with 2:59 remaining while passing for 230 yards and two scores.
Illinois responded, however. Altmyer, a Mississippi transfer making his first start with the program, connected with Casey Washington for a 33-yard gain on 4th and 4 to move the ball to the Rockets’ 31-yard line with just over two minutes left.
Toledo (0-1) surrendered three straight Illinois touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters. Luke Pawlak kicked a 44-yard field goal with 9:38 left to draw the Rockets within 27-22 before Finn’s scoring run, which was set up after a roughing the passer penalty on third down that extended the drive for the Rockets.
Altmyer was 18-for-26 passing for 211 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and was Illinois’ leading rusher with 69 yards on nine carries. Pat Bryant had six catches for 64 yards and two scores.
Finn was 20-for-36 passing with an interception. Junio Vandeross III had six catches for 80 yards, while Jacquez Stuart rushed 12 times for 82 yards.
Toledo outgained Illinois 215-177 in the first half en route to a 12-7 lead. The Rockets had 17 first downs, 10 more than the Illini.
Illinois drove for a touchdown on the game’s first possession, covering 75 yards in 10 plays over 5:13. A Josh McCray 1-yard scoring run punctuated the drive.
Toledo tightened up defensively after that, forcing two punts and a turnover on downs for the remainder of the first half. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ attack started to click. After punting following the first Illinois score, Toledo scored on each of its next four drives bridging the second and third quarters.
Pawlak kicked field goals of 27 and 25 yards before Finn connected with Jerjuan Newton for a 15-yard touchdown pass with four seconds remaining before halftime.
Illinois overcame 10 penalties for 100 yards.
—Field Level Media
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