Missouri beats Illini 40-34

By Jim Salter

ST. LOUIS – Chase Daniel threw three touchdown passes, Cornelius Brown intercepted a pass at the 1 with 51 seconds to play, and Missouri held off Illinois 40-34 on Saturday.

The Tigers (1-0) scored on a 100-yard fumble return and a 66-yard punt return and were up 37-13 late in the third quarter.

Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback Eddie McGee – in the game after starter Juice Williams left after a blow to the head in the second quarter – scored from 16 yards with 4:08 to play in the third quarter to cut the margin to 17.

After Missouri’s Dana Alexander fumbled on a double-reverse, McGee hit Kyle Hudson on a 41-yard scoring pass on the next play. The Illini got within three early in the fourth quarter after Daniel fumbled deep in his own territory. Rashard Mendenhall scored from the 4 two plays later to make it 37-34.

Missouri went ahead 40-34 on Jeff Wolfert’s 32-yard field goal with 8:32 to play, then held on.

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    The Illini had one final shot, taking over at their 30 with 2:51 to play and driving to the Missouri 22. But Brown leaped high to intercept Brown’s pass, and Missouri ran out the clock.

    McGee was 17-for-31 for 257 yards and a touchdown, but lost two fumbles and was intercepted twice. One of the fumbles came when McGee was inches from scoring on a quarterback draw in the second quarter. Missouri safety Pig Brown scooped up the ball and ran 100 yards the other way.

    Williams was scrambling near the sideline early in the second quarter when he appeared to take a helmet-to-helmet hit from Missouri cornerback Hardy Ricks. No penalty was called.

    Williams finished 6-for-9 for 59 yards and rushed six times for 15 yards. Coach Ron Zook said the hit left Williams with bruising and swelling above his eye, which made it difficult for him to see. Zook said he did not believe Williams had a concussion and that the quarterback should be able to play next Saturday at home against Western Illinois.

    Daniel was 37-for-54 for 359 yards and threw touchdown passes of 1 yard to Chase Coffman in the first quarter, 2 yards to Will Franklin in the second quarter and 25 yards to Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter.

    Maclin also scored on a 66-yard punt return that put Missouri up 37-13 with 6:11 to play in the third quarter, before the Illini began the comeback.

    Martin Rucker caught 10 passes for 86 yards for Missouri, and Alexander had nine catches for 82 yards.

    Illinois was led by Daniel Dufrene’s 58 rushing yards on six carries. Mendenhall had 433 yards and scored on runs of 25 and 4 yards.

    For more Illini football coverage, check out Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Illini