CHAMPAIGN — Heinrich Haarberg threw for 154 yards and rushed for a team-leading 82 yards and a touchdown as Nebraska beat Illinois 20-7 on Friday night.
Seven receivers caught passes from Haarberg, who was 12-of-24 passing. His 25-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was Nebraska’s second TD in 10 seconds.
Nebraska (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten Conference) stopped Illinois twice inside the Huskers’ 1 on the Illini’s first drive of the game, as Luke Altmyer and Reggie Love III each failed to get into the end zone.
The Huskers marched back down the field and scored on a 31-yard field goal by Tristan Alvano.
Illinois (2-4, 0-3) entered the game having scored just 10 points in the first quarter all season. The Illini failed to add to that total because of a goal-line stand by the Huskers.
Nebraska took a 17-0 lead with its two quick second-quarter touchdowns.
Anthony Grant leaped into the end zone from one yard out, completing a 14-play, 79-yard drive that took 6:38. After Nebraska recovered the ensuing kickoff, Haarberg ran untouched into the end zone.
The Illini scored their only touchdown with 1:31 left in the first half when Pat Bryant fought off Quinton Newsome and caught a perfectly thrown 46-yard touchdown pass from Altmyer.
A 55-yard field goal attempt by Illinois’ Caleb Griffin in the waning seconds of the half fell far short even with a stiff breeze at his back.
Nebraska’s Phelan Sanford forced a fumble by Griffin Moore after a pass reception early in the third quarter and Tommi Hill recovered and ran to the Illinois 13, setting up a 32-yard field goal by Alvano.
A blocked punt by Nebraska’s Blaise Gunnerson on Illinois’ next possession gave the Huskers the ball at the Illinois 18, but Alvano missed a 36-yard field goal.
Newsome avenged giving up Bryant’s TD when he intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 39 yards. A fumble by Grant ended Nebraska’s drive on the Illinois 15.
Nebraska: The victory pushed the Huskers into the Big Ten West title picture. After a bye week next week, Nebraska hosts Big Ten West opponents Northwestern and Purdue then travels to Michigan State, all teams with losing records.
Illinois: The Illini offense continues to struggle and be plagued by costly turnovers. Illinois couldn’t get its ground game going against Nebraska, rushing for just 21 yards.
Nebraska: The Huskers have a bye week before hosting Northwestern.
Illinois: The Illini will play at Maryland next Saturday.