Jalon Daniels threw for 277 yards and two first-quarter touchdowns Friday night in his first start of the year as Kansas stopped Illinois 34-23 in a nonconference contest in Lawrence, Kan.
Daniels, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury for last week’s 48-17 win over FCS opponent Missouri State, completed 21 of 29 passes with an interception. The Jayhawks rolled up 539 total yards, rushing for 262.
Devin Neal gained 120 yards on just 10 carries for Kansas (2-0) and Daniel Hishaw finished with 98 yards on 12 attempts, each scoring a touchdown. The Jayhawks finished with 27 first downs and controlled the ball for more than 36 1/2 minutes.
Luke Altmyer hit on 19 of 28 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Fighting Illini (1-1) while rushing for a team-high 70 yards and two scores on 13 carries. His 6-yard run with 8:08 left in the game, along with the team’s two-point conversion, brought Illinois within 11 points.
But the Illini’s last drive ended with 1:59 left when Kwinton Lassiter outfought a receiver for an interception at the Kansas 33.
Kansas put its stamp on the game right away with 82- and 85-yard touchdown drives in the first quarter. Daniels ended the first drive with a 4-yard strike to Torry Locklin and the second one with a 5-yard scoring pass to Jared Casey for a 14-0 lead.
The Jayhawks then upped the margin to 21-0 with a 94-yard drive that Neal ended with a 5-yard rush at the 3:12 mark of the second quarter. Illinois got on the board with Altmyer’s 4-yard pass to Tip Reiman with 41 seconds remaining but Kansas needed just 36 seconds to march 75 yards, getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Hishaw to make it 28-7 at the half.
After Seth Keller connected on 41- and 30-yard field goals in the third quarter for the Jayhawks, Altmyer raced 72 yards on a scramble with 1:35 remaining to draw the Illini within 34-15.