Football
Fighting Illini Edged by Broncos

 
Dere Hicks intercepts a pass intended for Western Michigan receiver Branden Ledbetter during the first quarter. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Dere Hicks intercepts a pass intended for Western Michigan receiver Branden Ledbetter during the first quarter. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
 

Nov. 8, 2008

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DETROIT (AP) - Tim Hiller threw two touchdowns and John Potter kicked three field goals to help Western Michigan beat Illinois 23-17 on Saturday.

The loss prevented Illinois (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) from clinching bowl eligibility. The Illini will get two more shots to qualify for a bowl: next week against 12th-ranked Ohio State and on Nov. 22 at No. 25 Northwestern.

Hiller's touchdown passes came after Illinois quarterback Juice Williams was intercepted on consecutive possessions in the second quarter. Hiller completed 28-of-40 passes for 301 yards and surpassed 3,000 passing yards for the second consecutive year.

Western Michigan (8-2, 5-1 Mid-Amercan) already is bowl eligible. However, the Broncos trail No. 16 Ball State and Central Michigan in the MAC West standings and might not qualify for the MAC championship game. The winner of that contest receives an automatic bowl bid.

Williams completed 20-of-45 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked twice in addition to the two interceptions. On their final possession, he led the Illini from their own 1-yard line to Western Michigan's 18, but a fourth-down pass to Arrelious Benn was incomplete.

The Broncos, hosting a game at Ford Field for the first time, gave up 443 total yards to an Illini offense ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten and 16th in the nation.

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