Kendrick Foster scored two touchdowns and Darius Mosely returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown as Illinois snapped a four-game losing streak with a 24-7 victory over mistake-prone Rutgers on Saturday.
Foster ran 5 yards for a touchdown and caught a 5-yard scoring pass from first-time starter Chayce Crouch in helping the Fighting Illini (2-4, 1-2 Big Ten) give coach Lovie Smith his first win since the season opener.
The Illini defense forced five turnovers, recovering four fumbles and getting the game-clinching return in the fourth quarter from Mosely, who also had a fumble recovery.
Gio Rescigno, who replaced Chris Laviano at the start of the second half, threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Nick Arcidiacono on the first play of the fourth quarter to snap an 11-quarter scoring drought and get Rutgers (2-5, 0-4) within 17-7.
It wasn’t enough to prevent the Scarlet Knights from losing their fourth straight game.
Rescigno had Rutgers at the Illini 25 with a first down on the next series, but Mosely intercepted his short pass to the left side. The clincher came after play was delayed a couple of minutes for an injury Scarlet Knights lineman J.J. Denman.
The first half was dominated by mistakes.
After having his first-quarter TD run following a muffed punt nullified by a holding penalty, Crouch threw an interception in the end zone.
Laviano and halfback Robert Martin both lost fumbles in Illinois’ territory. The low point for the Scarlet Knights might have been seeing Laviano and Rescigno mishandle snaps in the shotgun formation on fourth-down plays.
Illinois: Crouch played well, starting for the injured Wes Lunt. He was 6 of 14 for 92 yards and ran 11 times for 25. Lunt missed the game with a back injury sustained last week.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are clearly the worst team in the conference. Rescigno, who was 10 of 18 for 120 yards, clearly earned the right to start next week.
Illinois: The Illini travel to No. 4 Michigan next Saturday.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are at Minnesota next Saturday.