CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Mikel LeShoure ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and A.J. Jenkins had 114 receiving yards and a score Saturday night to lead Illinois past Southern Illinois 35-3.
The Illini (1-1) held the Salukis to a first-half field goal a week after Southern Illinois (1-1), of the FCS, defeated Quincy 70-7.
Illinois broke on top early on a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to Jenkins, who caught the ball deep over the middle, just behind the last Saluki defender, and ran to the end zone untouched for a 7-0 lead.
LeShoure's touchdowns followed -- a 1-yard run late in the first quarter and an 8-yard run with 2:48 left in the half -- and led to a 21-3 halftime lead for Illinois.
LeShoure's first touchdown was set up by a stiff Illini defensive stand that forced the Salukis' Austin Pucylowski to punt out of his end zone, giving Illini the ball at the SIU 36.
From there, Scheelhaase found Evan Wilson for a 34-yard completion. After a Saluki penalty moved the ball to the 1-yard line, LeShoure punched it for a 14-0 lead.
On his next touchdown LeShoure showed part of the reason, in spite of Illinois coach Ron Zook's preseason talk about his preference to use a running back platoon, he's been the featured back so far.
The 6-foot, 230-pound junior stopped, tiptoed over the outstretched hand of a defender who would have had stopped him for a loss, cut hard left and finally pushed the ball just over the cone with two hands for the score.
After throwing three interceptions in Illinois' season-opening loss to Missouri, Scheelhaase, a redshirt freshman, finished with 229 yards on 14 of 18 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Southern Illinois had its chances, starting drives at the Illinois 40, 20 and 17 after a pair of interceptions thrown by Illini backup quarterback Eddie McGee -- who occasionally spells Scheelhaase -- and a fumbled punt return by Jack Ramsey.
The Salukis turned those three breaks into just three points, on a 30-yard field goal by Kyle Dougherty with 4:48 left in the first half that cut Illinois' lead to 14-3.
The Salukis' Chris Dieker finished 19 of 35 passing for 168 yards. The Illini defense smothered SIU's other primary offensive threat, running back Lucien Walker, holding him to 30 yards on 11 carries.
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|North Dakota State||7-1||13-2|
|South Dakota State||5-3||8-4|