(Saturday, September 18th)
Final Score: Illinois 28, Northern Illinois 22
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Mikel Leshoure rushed for 180 yards and one touchdown for Illinois, as the Fighting Illini defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies, 28-22, at Memorial Stadium.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase also helped out the ground game for Illinois (2-1), totaling 115 yards and one touchdown on 16 totes. Since the rushing attack was so effective, Scheelhaase only threw the ball 16 times, completing eight of those attempts for 70 yards.
As for the Huskies (1-2), they were led by quarterback Chandler Harnish, who threw for 208 yards, but more importantly rushed for a team-best 117 yards, to go along with one touchdown.
The Fighting Illini opened the contest with a nine-yard touchdown run by Scheelhaase.
The Huskies responded on their next drive, as Chad Spann smashed into the end zone on a one-yard run. However, NIU's two-point attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the Huskies down by a slim, 7-6 margin.
An impressive 37-yard touchdown scamper by Harnish put the Huskies ahead for the first time in the matchup. However, once again coach Jerry Kill's squad was unable to produce after the score, as Mathew Sims missed the extra point.
Less than a minute into the second quarter the Illini cut into their deficit with a 25-yard field goal by Derek Dimke.
Illinois regained the lead late in the first half when Jason Ford broke free for an eight-yard touchdown run. The Illini added two more points on a run by Scheelhaase, which put his team up 18-12.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Illini extended their lead to 21-12 midway through the final frame when Dimke connected on a 32-yard field goal.
NIU did not take long to respond, as Jasmin Hopkins found Landon Cox for a 19- yard scoring strike, cutting the Huskies deficit to 21-19 with six minutes remaining in regulation.
With less than two minutes remaining in the final quarter, Leshoure broke free for a 29-yard touchdown run, giving the Illini a 28-19 edge.
Michael Cklamovski nailed a 48-yard field goal for the Huskies in the final minute of action, but Northern Illinois did not have another chance on offense, as Illinois was able to hold on for the six-point win.
09/18 16:01:22 ET