Illini Football Team Takes Opener, 24-7
By Jeff Bossert
New Illinois Head Football Coach Tim Beckman won his first game at Illinois Saturday, 24-7 over the Broncos of Western Michigan.
No particular Illini stood out from a statistical perspective, but that pleased Beckman, who awarded the game ball to the entire team.
'As I told the football team, (Athletic Director) Mike Thomas was gracious enough to give me the game ball, but this is not my game ball, this is his team's game ball," he said. "This is the first victory of the new era."
The most unusual performance of the afternoon came from tight end Jon Davis, who carried the ball for a team high 54 yards from the halfback position.
"I think I caugt a lot of people by surprise," he said. "I didn't run the bal that much in the spring."
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase left the game late in the third quarter after tweaking an ankle. He completed 11 of 18 passes 126 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He ran for 21 yards and another touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Reilly O’Toole completed two of three attempts for seven yards.
The Illini held Western Michigan to 259 yards, including negative six yards rushing. Defensive end Michael Buchanan, safety Earnest Thomas and line backer Ashante Williams grabbed interceptions. Williams ran his 60 yards the other way for a fourth quarter touchdown to seal the game.
The Illini travel next Saturday to Arizona State. Eastern Illinois' Panthers are next on the Bronco schedule. That's next week in Kalamazoo.