CHAMPAIGN, IL- A strong defensive start and a late turnover didn’t suffice for the Illinois Fighting Illini. In front of the largest crowd this season and a full student section for the first time, the Fighting Illini took the defeat against the Wisconsin Badgers losing their homecoming game by a score of 24-13.
Wisconsin has now won ten of the last eleven games against Illinois and it's Illinois first loss at Memorial Stadium since last year’s loss against the Purdue Boilermakers in a 38-27 defeat.
Illinois defensive pressure early on was outstanding, they were able to force a few three and outs, however, they failed to keep the pressure and intensity throughout the entire game. Wisconsin ended the day with 419 yards of total offense, 138 yards were rushing.
Badger quarterback, Joel Stave had to leave the game early in the second quarter after he was sacked on two straight plays by Illini defensive end Carroll Phillips. Stave went 3-for-7 with 49 yards and was replaced by backup quarterback Bart Houston. Houston finished the day with 232 yards on 22-for-33 passing with one touchdown.
Illini defense back Eaton Spence intercepted a pass in the end zone with a little under 30 seconds left in the first half of play, the interception stopped the Badgers from scoring.
The Illini had a tough time yet again when it came to stopping the big plays. Illinois defender Mason Monheim stopped a potential touchdown with a tackle that tripped up Wisconsin’s running back in the first quarter following a huge 35-yard pass by the Badgers.
In the third quarter, Illinois defender Taylor Barton forced Badger receiver Alex Erickson out of play to prevent a scoring chance after Erickson took off for a 56-yard run.
The Fighting Illini struggled offensively and couldn’t seem to get in rhythm, they had to rely on big plays to put points up on the board. Illinois only touchdown of the game came on a 36-yard rush by freshman sensation Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Vaughn finished with 13 carries and racked up a total of 55 yards.
The scoring today mainly came from their kicker, Taylor Zalewski. With the winds blowing around at upwards of 30 mph, Zalewski managed to still kick field goals resulting in points for the Illini. Zalewski finished the game with two field goals.
Wes Lunt went 22-for-43 with 278 yards through the air and no touchdowns. Illini wide receiver Geronimo Allison led all receivers with 99 yards on eight receptions. Malik Turner finished with 80 yards on four receptions.
Illinois will look to regroup and get back to their winning ways next week when they take on Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania.