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Incredible Illinois

Illini rout Virginia 63-21 in Micronpc.com Bowl

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Friday December 31, 1999 03:10 AM

  Brandon Lloyd Illinois receiver Brandon Lloyd (left) tries to break away from Virginia's Dwayne Stukes after a pass reception. AP

MIAMI (AP) -- The Illini showed them they were no 3-point underdogs.

Quarterback Kurt Kittner ran for a score, threw two touchdown passes and caught another one as Illinois beat the Cavaliers 63-21 Thursday night in the Micronpc.com Bowl.

Illinois capped a remarkable turnaround under third-year coach Ron Turner. The Illini went 0-11 two years ago and finished 3-8 last season. After the game, several Illini players jumped into the stands to celebrate with their fans.

"I told the guys it's not the end, it's the beginning," Turner said.

The Illini (8-4) beat Michigan and Ohio State on the road this year and won the most games since 1990. The season ended Thursday on a four-game winning streak capped by their most complete game of the year.

Most points in a Bowl game
Points  Team  Bowl 
65  Texas A&M  1990 Holiday 
63  Illinois  1999 Micronpc.com 
62  Nebraska  1996 Fiesta 
62  Oklahoma St.  1988 Holiday 
61  Alabama  1953 Orange 
 

Illinois scored nine touchdowns on 13 possessions. The defense held Virginia's Thomas Jones, the nation's No. 3 rusher, to 110 yards on the ground. And on special teams, the Illini blocked two punts that set up touchdowns.

"I have no explanation," Virginia coach George Welsh said. "I'm embarrassed by that performance. I'm absolutely bewildered. We got whacked on defense, then it was a snowball running downhill.

"I'd like to burn the tape, but I'm going to make them watch it in January. Maybe it will be incentive for the winter program. This was bad. It takes a lot away from the season when you end up like that."

Kittner, a sophomore from Schaumburg, Ill., scored on a 1-yard bootleg on the opening drive. He also threw two touchdowns in the first half. But his best play may have come on a perfectly executed reverse to Brandon Lloyd.

With Illinois leading 14-7, Kittner faked a handoff to Steve Havard, handed off to Lloyd and then slipped down the left sideline unnoticed. Lloyd rolled right, stopped, and threw back to the wide-open Kittner. He caught the pass in stride and strolled untouched into the end zone.

Kittner chucked the ball into the stands, apparently attempting to throw the ball to his mother, Lee Trantin, who has multiple sclerosis. Kittner has said his mother is his inspiration.

Illinois, playing in its first bowl game since the 1994 Liberty Bowl, scored its most points in a bowl game and their most points in a game since 1989. It also was a record for the Micronpc.com Bowl, previously known as the Carquest and the Blockbuster.

Virginia (7-5) tied the game 7-7 on Jones' 7-yard run. Jones carried three times on the three-play drive was set up by Jameel Cook's fumble.

Jones ran for 82 yards on 14 carries in the first half, but the huge deficit seemed to take him out of the game.

Illinois scored 28 second-quarter points and led 42-7 at halftime.

"They did whatever they wanted to do," Jones said. "We were basically finished at halftime. Whenever we get behind, this is what happens."

The Illini racked up 372 yards in the first half and finished with 611, running the ball and working the clock for the majority of the second half.

Kittner was 14-of-24 for 254 yards before being replaced by Kirk Johnson with about eight minutes to play. With his two touchdown passes, Kittner broke Jeff George's school record for the most TD passes in a season. Kittner threw 24 this year, breaking George's mark of 22 set in 1989.

Rocky Harvey ran for 122 yards on 10 carries and Havard added 75 yards. They each scored twice.

Virginia, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, continued its futility in Florida bowl games. In addition to Thursday's loss, the Cavaliers have lost twice in the Carquest Bowl (1994 and 1996), once in the Gator Bowl (1991) and once in the Citrus Bowl (1990).

"They're not as good as we made them look tonight," Jones said.

 
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