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Football Topped by Illinois

ILLINOIS 38 (3-2, 1-1), RUTGERS 17 (1-5, 0-3) HIGHPOINT.COM STADIUM • PISCATAWAY, N.J. OCTOBER 6, 2018 • ATTENDANCE: 36,702 PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers football (1-5, 0-3) was topped by Illinois (3-2, 1-1), 38-17, on Saturday afternoon at Stadium. Freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski threw for a season-best 267 yards on 29 completions with a touchdown. Graduate running back Jonathan Hilliman added his fifth touchdown of the season, while sophomore tight end Travis Vokolek posted the first score of his career. Defensively, junior safety Damon Hayes paced the team with seven tackles and a sack. Senior linebacker Trevor Morris and fifth-year defensive end Kevin Wilkins followed with six tackles each in the loss. FIRST QUARTER Although Illinois added a field goal on its second drive of the game, Rutgers countered with a touchdown on its following drive to take the lead. Hilliman rushed for 32 yards to give the Scarlet Knights a 7-3 advantage early in the game.

Come for the uniforms, stay for the @thrilliman thrills. 🔥@RFootballscores the first TD of the day and opens up a 7-3 lead over Illinois:

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) October 6, 2018

The Fighting Illini flipped the advantage with a 3-yard rushing touchdown at the end of the first quarter. SECOND QUARTER Moving into the second frame, Illinois held onto its momentum with two more rushing touchdowns. With less than a minute to go until halftime, the Scarlet Knights stumped the Fighting Illini run with a touchdown of their own. Sitkowski connected with Vokolek for a 4-yard passing touchdown to cut into the deficit 24-10.

Artie 👏 Party 👏@RFootball finds the end zone to get back in the ball game, as @artursitkowski4 hits Travis Vokolek for the TD:

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) October 6, 2018

FOURTH QUARTER Following a scoreless third quarter for either side, Illinois opened the final frame with a touchdown. Sophomore kicker Justin Davidovicz would tack on a 20-yard field goal for RU late in the stanza. The deficit, however, was too large for RU to overcome in the end. UP NEXT Rutgers travels to Maryland on Oct. 13 for a noon matchup in College Park. PARTICIPATION

  • Collegiate debut (1): PK Gavin Haggerty (29th player to make Rutgers debut this season and 26th to see first collegiate action)

  • First career start (1): LG Sam Vretman (11th Rutgers player to make first collegiate start this season)


  • QB Artur Sitkowski had career highs with 29 completions, 46 attempts and 267 passing yards.

  • The 267 passing yards rank as the ninth-most by a Scarlet Knight true freshman quarterback.

  • The 29 completions are the most by an RU quarterback since Mike Teel had 32 versus Connecticut in 2007.

  • Had a stretch of 11 consecutive completions from the second quarter to the third quarter.

  • RB Jonathan Hilliman recorded a 32-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for his longest rush of the season. He now has a team-leading five rushing touchdowns on the season and 31 in his career. The running back led the team with 123 all-purpose yards on the day.

  • TE Travis Vokolek picked up his first career touchdown on a seven-yard reception in the second quarter. He finished with five catches after previously owning three in 12 prior games.

  • WR Bo Melton set career highs with six catches for 70 yards. He has at least two receptions each game this season.

  • Rutgers had 14 first downs via the pass for the first time since the 2015 game versus Maryland.

  • Rutgers had eight stops in the backfield and has had at least five in all but one game this season. DL Kevin Wilkins registered two tackles-for-loss to increase his career total to 15.5.

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