Illini lose season opener in a close one

By Adam Harris and Alex Symonds

The Illinois football team never quit on Saturday, but their comeback effort still came up short at the Edward Jones Dome, losing 40-34 to the Missouri Tigers in the State Farm Arch Rivalry game.

The Tigers (1-0) capitalized on several Illini (0-1) mistakes, returning both a fumble and a punt for touchdowns, along with intercepting Illini backup quarterback Eddie McGee twice in the fourth quarter.

McGee took the field in the second quarter after starter Juice Williams was knocked out of the game with a blow to the head. The redshirt freshman stumbled out of the gate, losing two fumbles to the Tiger defense.

But he bounced back in the second half leading the Illini to three scores, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Hudson and a 16-yard touchdown run that put the Illini within ten yards.

After a Rashard Mendenhall run put the orange and blue only a field goal down, Tiger quarterback Chase Daniel led his team on a 9-play drive that ended on a Jeff Wolfert field goal to give Missouri a six-point lead. Daniel conducted the Tiger air attack with 359 yards and 3 touchdowns on 37 of 54 passing.

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McGee then followed with two interceptions in Tiger territory that sealed the game. For more analysis and player reactions from this game, you can click on the audio icon for an in-depth wrap-up or tune into “Standing Room Only” from 12 to 1 p.m. on Sunday on WPGU 107.1 FM.

Also, check out Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Illini for a complete post-game story.