Virginia Falls To Illinois In MicronPC.com Bowl, 63-21
Dec. 30, 1999
MIAMI (AP) – Virginia is still 0-for-Florida.
Quarterback Kurt Kittner ran for a score, threw two touchdown passes andcaught another one as Illinois beat the Cavaliers 63-21 Thursday night in theMicronpc.com Bowl.
The loss was Virginia’s fifth in five bowl games in Florida.
Illinois capped a remarkable turnaround under third-year coach Ron Turner.The Illini went 0-11 two years ago and finished 3-8 last season. After thegame, several Illini players jumped into the stands to celebrate with theirfans.
“I told the guys it’s not the end, it’s the beginning,” Turner said.
The Illini (8-4) beat Michigan and Ohio State on the road this year and wonthe most games since 1990. The season ended Thursday on a four-game winningstreak capped by their most complete game of the year.
Illinois scored nine touchdowns on 13 possessions. The defense heldVirginia’s Thomas Jones, the nation’s No. 3 rusher, to 110 yards on the ground.And on special teams, the Illini blocked two punts that set up touchdowns.
“I have no explanation,” Virginia coach George Welsh said. “I’membarrassed by that performance, I’m absolutely bewildered. We got whacked ondefense, then it was a snowball running downhill.
“I’d like to burn the tape, but I’m going to make them watch it in January.Maybe it will be incentive for the winter program. This was bad. It takes a lotaway from the season when you end up like that.”
Kittner, a sophomore from Schaumburg, Ill., scored on a 1-yard bootleg onthe opening drive. He also threw two touchdowns in the first half. But his bestplay may have come on a perfectly executed reverse to Brandon Lloyd.
With Illinois leading 14-7, Kittner faked a handoff to Steve Havard, handedoff to Lloyd and then slipped down the left sideline unnoticed. Lloyd rolledright, stopped, and threw back to the wide-open Kittner. He caught the pass instride and strolled untouched into the end zone.
Kittner chucked the ball into the stands, apparently attempting to throw theball to his mother, Lee Trantin, who has multiple sclerosis. Kittner has saidhis mother is his inspiration.
Illinois, playing in its first bowl game since the 1994 Liberty Bowl, scoredits most points in a bowl game and their most points in a game since 1989. Italso was a record for the Micronpc.com Bowl, previously known as the Carquestand the Blockbuster.
Virginia (7-5) tied the game 7-7 on Jones’ 7-yard run. Jones carried threetimes on the three-play drive was set up by Jameel Cook’s fumble.
Jones ran for 82 yards on 14 carries in the first half, but the huge deficitseemed to take him out of the game.
Illinois scored 28 second-quarter points and led 42-7 at halftime.
“They did whatever they wanted to do,” Jones said. “We were basicallyfinished at halftime. Whenever we get behind, this is what happens.”
The Illini racked up 372 yards in the first half and finished with 611,running the ball and working the clock for the majority of the second half.
Kittner was 14-of-24 for 254 yards before being replaced by Kirk Johnsonwith about eight minutes to play. With his two touchdown passes, Kittner brokeJeff George’s school record for the most TD passes in a season. Kittner threw24 this year, breaking George’s mark of 22 set in 1989.
Rocky Harvey ran for 122 yards on 10 carries and Havard added 75 yards. Theyeach scored twice.
Virginia, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, continued itsfutility in Florida bowl games. In addition to Thursday’s loss, the Cavaliershave lost twice in the Carquest Bowl (1994 and 1996), once in the Gator Bowl(1991) and once in the Citrus Bowl (1990).
“They’re not as good as we made them look tonight,” Jones said.