Linebacker Shaq Thompson returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown, picked up a fumble and rumbled 52 yards for another score, and Washington routed Illinois 44-19 on Saturday, improving to 3-0 under Chris Petersen.
Thompson became the first Washington player in 20 years to score via fumble and interception in the same game. Reggie Reser accomplished the feat in 1994 in a victory over California. Thompson was on the verge of adding a TD on offense but stumbled on a 13-yard run when it looked like he had a clear path to the end zone.
Washington quarterback Cyler Miles threw a 75-yard touchdown to John Ross as part of a 21-point blitz that took less than six minutes of the first half. Dwayne Washington's 12-yard TD run gave the Huskies a 28-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Wes Lunt threw for 230 yards for the Fighting Illini (2-1), but was unable to take advantage of Washington's depleted secondary. Illinois was trying for just the fifth 3-0 start in the past 25 years.
Washington played without starting cornerbacks Marcus Peters (suspension) and Jermaine Kelly(injury) and it didn't matter. After two shaky outings in squeaking past Hawaii and FCS power Eastern Washington, the Huskies put together a complete performance.
Thompson was the catalyst. A week after racing 57 yards for a touchdown on offense, Thompson's two defensive TDs were part of a 28-2 scoring run by the Huskies. Thompson stepped in front of Lunt's pass and ran untouched for his first score, just four plays after Miles and Ross hooked up for their long touchdown.
Then early in the second quarter, Lunt was stripped by Andrew Hudson as he attempted to move in the pocket. Washington's John Timu shielded an Illinois player so Thompson had a clear path to scoop up the loose ball and run for his second touchdown and a 35-5 Washington lead.
Miles was 15 of 20 passing for 191 yards and added another 55 yards rushing. If there is a complaint for Washington it might be the run game. Collectively, the Huskies finished with 245 yards rushing -- most of those coming in the fourth quarter -- but there was no standout ball carrier. Dwayne Washington had 58 yards rushing on 11 carries while Jesse Callier ran for 53 yards and had a 3-yard TD run for Washington's first score.
The effort was what Petersen was hoping to see after offense struggles in the opening win at Hawaii and the defensive concerns that arose after last week's narrow victory over Eastern Washington.
Cameron Van Winkle added field goals of 20, 25 and 51 yards.
Geronimo Allison had six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns, but was the bulk of the Illini offense. After throwing for 456 yards in last week's win over Western Kentucky, Lunt was sacked five times and when he did have time missed open receivers. Illinois was 1 of 10 on third downs and committed 11 penalties.