Illinois-Western Michigan Postgame Notes

Ashante Williams had a 60-yard interception return for TD against the Broncos.
Ashante Williams had a 60-yard interception return for TD against the Broncos.

Sept. 1, 2012

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Illinois Postgame Notes

Illinois 24, Western Michigan 7
Memorial Stadium // Sept. 1, 2012 // Attendance: 43,441

Team Notes

1. With today's win over Western Michigan, Illinois won its seventh-straight season-opener at home, as well as its 15th straight home-opener. Illinois improves to 4-1 all-time vs. Western Michigan, winning all four games in Champaign. Coach Tim Beckman, meanwhile, improves to 3-1 all-time vs. the Broncos.
2. The seven points allowed by the Illini defense today were the fewest by an FBS opponent in nine seasons, since UCLA scored six on Sept. Sept. 13, 2003 (UCLA defeated Illinois 6-3).
3. The Illini defense shut down WMU's running game, holding the Broncos to negative-6 rushing yards. It marked the first time Illinois had held an opponent to negative yards rushing since the 1998 home opener, when Middle Tennessee had negative-9 yards (9/12/98).
4. Illinois controlled time of possession, owning a margin of more than 11 minutes (35:02 - 24:58).
5. Turnovers played a major factor in the game as Western Michigan had four turnovers, compared to just one for the Illini.
6. The Illini defense intercepted three Western Michigan passes and also recovered a fumble. It was the first time the Illini recorded three INTs and a total of four turnovers since equaling both of those figures at Fresno State on Dec. 3, 2010.

Individual Notes

1. Junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase hit junior receiver Ryan Lankford with a 64-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter for Illinois' first touchdown of 2012. It was the longest catch of Lankford's career and Scheelhaase's seventh career TD pass of 50-plus yards, the most by any Big Ten quarterback since 2009.
2. Scheelhaase also rushed for a touchdown in today's win in addition to passing for a score, marking only the fifth time in his 27 games as a starter that he reached the end zone on the ground and through the air. It also happened against Northwestern and Indiana in 2011, and against Michigan and Fresno State in 2010.
3. Sophomore punter Justin DuVernois ended the first half with a 72-yard punt, which ranks as the 13th-longest punt in school history and longest since Steve Weatherford's 79-yard boot against Michigan State on Oct. 9, 2004.
4. Illinois' third interception of the afternoon resulted in a pick-6, as Ashante Williams raced 60 yards for the score. The Illini have now had interception returns for touchdowns in consecutive games (Terry Hawthorne 39-yard INT return vs. UCLA in the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl).
5. In addition to his interception return for touchdown, Williams led the Illini in tackles on the day with a career-high nine stops.
6. Michael Buchanan recorded his first career interception in the first quarter, corralling the ball after he deflected it with his left hand at the line of scrimmage. Buchanan also had two TFLs (including one sack), two quarterback hurries and one PBU on the afternoon.
7. Eleven Illini played in their first game for the Orange and Blue today, four true-freshmen (V'Angelo Bentley, Mike Svetina, Mason Monheim, Justin Hardee), five redshirt-freshmen (Darrius Caldwell, Taylor Zalewski, Eaton Spence, Kenny Nelson, Patrick Flavin), one redshirt sophomore (Nick Immekus) and one fifth-year transfer (Tommy Davis).
8. Illinois had four players make their first career start today, as redshirt-freshmen Josh Ferguson and Ted Karras, sophomore Earnest Thomas and junior Tim Kynard all started a game for the first time.