Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Northwestern's Late Interception Sinks Illini 17-14

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Northwestern's Late Interception Sinks Illini 17-14

Article excerpt

For the second time in as many games, the Illini had a chance to pull out a victory late in the fourth quarter Saturday, but Northwestern stopped a late drive to preserve a 17-14 win.

Two weeks earlier, Illini quarterback Scott Weaver watched from the bench as Johnny Johnson threw an interception that ended an Illini comeback against Michigan State. This time it was Weaver throwing an interception that sealed the victory for Northwestern.

The Wildcats' Darnell Autry, the Big Ten Conference's leading runner, recorded a school-record ninth consecutive 100-yard rushing game. He accounted for all but two of Northwestern's running yards, carrying the football a career-high 41 times for 151 yards and one touchdown.

Former St. Louis University High quarterback Steve Schnur completed eight of 19 passes for 117 yards, with one TD pass and no interceptions.

Northwestern (7-1) remains undefeated in the Big Ten at 5-0. Illinois fell to 3-4 and 1-3.

Wildcats coach Gary Barnett said he wasn't surprised by the close game his team got from Illinois.

"We knew it was going to be like that," Barnett said. "I'm really proud of our guys for persevering; we could have let that one slip away."

A 37-yard pass from Weaver to Jason Dulick with less than two minutes left in the game gave the Illini a first down at the Northwestern 18. The Illini were behind by three points, but inefficient clock management, a sack and a holding call put the Illini out of field-goal range. Weaver threw an interception in the end zone as time ran out.

"We need to learn how to sustain our offense for the whole game," Weaver said. "We've had two games now where it felt like we started off pretty well and had some confidence going into the second half, and we were unable to maintain the lead."

Illini coach Lou Tepper said he was playing for the win, but the offense's lack of execution proved critical.

"That part was probably the most disappointing, because we didn't give ourselves a chance to win against a good defense," Tepper said. …

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