Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louisan Ball Helps Sink Lllini; Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14; He Scores Two Touchdowns, Is Nine Away from NCAA Career Record; ILLINOIS (COLLEGE FOOTBALL)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louisan Ball Helps Sink Lllini; Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14; He Scores Two Touchdowns, Is Nine Away from NCAA Career Record; ILLINOIS (COLLEGE FOOTBALL)

Article excerpt

MADISON, WIS. - Wisconsin running back Montee Ball said he needed this. So did the rest of the Badgers.

Ball scored two touchdowns and Joel Stave threw two TD passes as the Badgers defeated Illinois 31-14 on Saturday.

Struggling on offense for much of the year, Wisconsin has had an offensive line coach fired, two starting quarterbacks and performances from Ball that looked very little like the ones he had last year when he tied the NCAA record for TDs in a season, 39.

But Ball, who is from Timberland High in Wentzville, rushed for 116 yards in 19 carries and said it finally felt like the Wisconsin of old as the Badgers took over in the fourth quarter.

"It was a different feeling this season," Ball said. "But I've always been behind my offensive line, and I knew they would get the job done. I knew I would get my chance and I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to let them down. My job is to make guys miss, and I did it."

Ball has 69 TDs (63 rushing, six receiving) in his career, nine shy of tying the FBS record held by Travis Prentice of Miami of Ohio from 1996-99.

Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) came into Saturday with an offense that ranked last in the conference overall and was putting up just 56 yards rushing a game.

But Wisconsin ran for 173 yards, with 96 of that coming in the fourth quarter. Ball gained 97 yards on 11 carries then.

"We've just got to be able to respond when something doesn't occur the way we want it to occur," Illini coach Tim Beckman Beckman said. "Things just seem to snowball on us. We've got to learn to react in a positive way and keep on fighting for four quarters."

The offensive struggles of the Illini (2-4, 0-2) continued, with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase the only positive. He finished with 178 yards passing and 84 rushing as Illinois gained 287 yards overall.

Scheelhaase ran 5 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and threw an 8-yard TD pass to Ryan Lankford to make it 24-14 late in the game. But Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis fielded the ensuing onside kick, and Ball scored his second touchdown to snuff out any hopes of an Illinois comeback.

With the score tied at 7-7, Stave hit Derek Watt for 26 yards, and Illinois defensive back Terry Hawthorne was called for a personal foul on the hit, putting the ball at the Illinois 33. …

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