Washington cruises to 44-19 win over Illinois

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Washington’s John Ross III hauls in a 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter against Illinois at Husky Stadium in Seattle on Saturday. Washington handed Illinois its first loss in a 44-19 Huskies win.

SEATTLE — Illinois fans watching the game from home complained that Saturday’s game against Washington was being bumped from the broadcast until a baseball game ended.

They should have considered it a blessing.

The Illini dropped their first game of the season, 44-19, on Saturday afternoon at Washington. 

It unraveled quickly for Illinois (2-1), which trailed 38-12 at halftime. 

The Illini turned the ball over three times, including an interception and a fumble by quarterback Wes Lunt, resulting in 36- and 52-yard touchdowns, respectively, for Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson.

In fact, Thompson’s plays alone had the Huskies with a lead over the entire Illini offense.

The Illini racked up 70 yards with seven penalties, including back-to-back facemask calls and an unnecessary interference penalty as Washington faced third-and-29. 

They also failed to convert on all six third-down attempts in the first half, while the Huskies converted on five of eight. 

Illinois only scored on a wobbly 25-yard field goal, a safety and a nice 60-yard bomb from Lunt to receiver Geronimo Allison late in the first half.

The Illini scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass again from Lunt to Allison to cut Washington’s lead 38-19, then held Washington scoreless in the third period after the Huskies put up 38 points in the first half. 

Illinois has fallen behind before this season, but never this quickly or dramatically.

After beating Youngstown State and Western Kentucky with fourth-quarter comebacks, Illinois coaches praised the team’s ability to bounce back.

But this was an insurmountable challenge for the Illini.