Postgame Notes - #24 Illinois 23, Western Michigan 20

Sept. 24, 2011

Recap |  Final Stats |  Quotes |  Photo Gallery 

#24/RV Illinois 23, Western Michigan 20
Sept. 24, 2011
Memorial Stadium \\ Champaign, Ill. \\ Attendance: 43,684

Team Notes
1. With the win over Western Michigan, Illinois improves to 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 1951. It also is the Illini's first win as a ranked team since a 20-17 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 13, 2008.

2. The Illini now have won five in a row dating back to the 2010 Texas Bowl victory. This consecutive wins total equals the longest of the Ron Zook era and most since 9/8-10/6/2007.

3. Illinois went undefeated in non-conference play for the first time since 2001. The 2001 season also marked Illinois' most recent Big Ten championship season.

4. Illinois had two turnovers today but held Western Michigan scoreless following both miscues. The Illini defense has not allowed an opponent to score following any of Illinois' six turnovers in 2011.

5. With an interception against Western Michigan, the Illinois defense now has forced at least one turnover in 19 consecutive games, dating back to the Nov. 14, 2009, game against Northwestern.

6. Illinois continued its strong rush defense, holding Western Michigan to 35 yards on 21 carries (1.7 ypc). Illinois entered the game permitting 63.7 yards per game, seventh-best in the nation and first among Big Ten teams. The Illini now are allowing opponents to rush for 56.5 yards per game.

Individual Notes
1. Senior running back Troy Pollard produced a career-high 133 rushing yards on a career-best 14 attempts (9.5 ypc). Pollard's previous best was 101 rushing yards against South Dakota State two weeks ago.

2. Freshman running back Donovonn Young ran for 100 yards on 12 attempts (8.3 ypr), scoring one touchdown - the first 100+ yard rushing game of his career. It also was the first 100-yard game by an Illini freshman since Jason Ford rushed for 172 yards against Indiana on Oct. 18, 2008.

3. With both Pollard and Young topping the 100-yard mark, Illinois had two rushers run for 100 or more yards in the same game since the Dec. 3, 2010 against Fresno State. In that game, Mikel Leshoure ran for 142 yards and Nathan Scheelhaase had 131 rushing yards.

4. Junior Terry Hawthorne collected nine tackles, three pass break-ups and one interception to lead the Illinois defense. Hawthorne's tackles equaled his previous single-game high, when he had nine stops during Illinois' Texas Bowl victory over Baylor. Hawthorne also tied his previous best for PBUs, set at Cincinnati Nov. 27, 2009. Hawthorne's interception was his first of the season and third of his career.

5. Junior tight end Eddie Viliunas caught the first pass of his career against Western Michigan, a 39-yard reception that set up fellow tight end Evan Wilson's 11-yard touchdown reception.

6. With three made field goals against Western Michigan, senior kicker Derek Dimke has now converted his previous nine attempts, including a 6-for-6 streak so far in 2011.

7. Junior Michael Buchanan and junior Whitney Mercilus combined to make nine tackles - including 2.5 for loss - two sacks, and six quarterback hurries against Western Michigan.

8. Scheelhaase continued his precision passing against Western Michigan, completing 14-of-20 attempts for 133 yards and a touchdown, good for a 70.0 completion percentage. Scheelhaase entered the game completing 71.7 percent of his attempts (33-for-46).