Alex Felkins connected on three field goals and Penn State’s defense hounded Illinois into five turnovers Saturday afternoon, lifting the No 7 Nittany Lions to a 30-13 Big Ten victory over the Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill.
A two-touchdown favorite, the Nittany Lions (3-0, 1-0) scored 13 points on the first three miscues by the home side, including a run by Kaytron Allen, and never trailed in the conference opener for both teams.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar was a modest 16 of 33 for 208 yards, but he did not turn the ball over in a game that was largely decided by Illinois mistakes, as the Nittany Lions scored 20 points off turnovers.
Allar has not thrown an interception in his 88 passes this season.
Penn State improved to 21-6 in the series, which dates to 1954. It has won seven of the past nine matchups.
Illinois’ Luke Altmyer had a rough outing. The Ole Miss transfer went 15 of 28 for 163 yards but surrendered four interceptions as the Fighting Illini (1-2, 0-1) lost for the second consecutive outing.
Backup John Paddock (10 of 16, 129 yards) threw a touchdown.
The visitors were able to score after Kobe King recovered a first-quarter fumble. However, Illinois’ defensive stand deep inside the red zone limited Penn State to Felkins’ 20-yarder at 5:27.
Linebacker Abdul Carter’s interception resulted in the kicker’s second boot – a 45-yarder late in the frame for a 6-0 lead.
Allen’s rushing touchdown from four yards out at 11:04 made it 13-0. That tally was set up by cornerback Daequan Hardy’s pick of Altmyer.
After Illinois blocked a 52-yard try by Felkins, Altmyer got the offense moving with just over six minutes left in the half. Reggie Love III cut it to six points when he bulled in from five yards to end the seven-play, 68-yard drive.
Felkins knocked home a 28-yarder on the final play of the half for a 16-7 edge.
Tyler Warren created some separation when he caught an 11-yard halfback pass from Trey Potts to push the lead to 23-7 with 2:14 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter’s first minute, Nicholas Singleton ran it in from 16 yards, while Illinois scored with 4:21 left on Malik Elzy’s 19-yard reception from Paddock.