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    Illinois Loses Season Opener Against Missouri, 37-9
    Illinois wide receiver Jarred Fayson, right, catches a pass for a 24-yard gain. (AP)

    Illinois wide receiver Jarred Fayson, right, catches a pass for a 24-yard gain. (AP)

    Sept. 5, 2009

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    ST. LOUIS (AP)--Blaine Gabbert threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in a stellar starting debut to lead rebuilding Missouri to a 37-9 victory over Illinois on Saturday, its fifth win in a row in the neutral-site series.

    The Tigers led 16-3 at the half and pulled away with touchdowns on two of their first three possessions after the break. Danario Alexander had nine receptions for 129 yards, including two catches for 59 yards, on the opening drive of the third quarter, and Jared Perry caught a 46-yard touchdown pass in the third for a 30-3 lead.

    Williams was 18 for 28 for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Last year, Williams passed for 451 yards and five touchdowns and set an Edward Jones Dome record with 461 yards of total offense.

    Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn and running back Jason Ford missed the second half with ankle injuries. Daniel Dufrene, the starter at running back, dressed but did not play due to an ankle injury.

    Gabbert was 7 for 8 for 106 yards in the first quarter, leading Missouri to a 10-0 lead after two possessions while Illinois opened with two punts. The big play of the half was a 49-yard scoring pass to Wes Kemp, a sophomore also making his first career start, and the Tigers added field goals of 32, 44 and 41 yards from new kicker Grant Ressel.

    Trailing 13-3 late in the second quarter, Illinois failed to capitalize on a roughing the punter call when Williams stumbled just after taking the snap on 4th-and-1 at the Missouri 20. Williams appeared to get his legs tangled with guard Randall Hunt and fell backward for a 4-yard loss.

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