Win Games Illinois, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois


Illinois 23, Western Michigan 20


CHAMPAIGNIllinois found a way in the second half to escape another Western Michigan upset. It was three years ago that the Broncos knocked off the Illini in Detroit. Trailing 13-10 at halftime on Saturday, Illinois rallied with a 14-yard touchdown run by freshman Donovonn Young and two Derek Dimke field goals to pull out the win. Dimke connected on a 21-yard field goal with 8:14 left for the game-winning points. The Illini’s defense held strong from there, coming through again after leading the way in last week’s 17-14 win over Arizona State. Western Michigan was held to seven points in the second half.


This was a game that scared Illinois, and Western Michigan proved those fears to be justified. While it wasn’t pretty, Illinois survived another close contest and remained undefeated. Illinois is now 4-0 for the first time since 1951, which also happens to be the last year it claimed a national championship.


Illinois opens its Big Ten schedule with in-state rival Northwestern next week. The Illini’s offense went wild in a 48-27 win over Northwestern at Wrigley Field last season. Northwestern had this week off and is hoping to return all-conference quarterback Dan Persa next week.

Pittsburgh 12, Notre Dame 15

PITTSBURGH — Safely distanced from another grease fire largely of their own making, Notre Dame players trudged back to the Heinz Field locker room Saturday. En route, veteran defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore greeted each teammate with a vigorous hand-slap and a pithy but equally spirited observation.


 ILLINOIS „That’s how we (bleeping) bounce back!” Lewis-Moore bellowed, his deep bass careening off the walls.

That about summed it up: Notre Dame was keenly aware it had to overcome its occasionally noxious Notre Dame-ness to notch a 15-12 victory over Pittsburgh. Though, fittingly in a stadium named for a condiment maker, everyone took a flavorless effort and tried to slather it with something tastier.


 „I’d like to have won 37-0, too,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. „But you know what? Winning is winning. And it’s not easy. You go on the road against a BCS team and limit them to 12 points and find a way to win — I like that development.”

 That word — development — is the crux of interpretation because the victory averted no small disaster when another defeat would have incinerated lingering BCS aspirations before September was out.

  But development was also two more turnovers (now 15 total) and eight penalties and forehead-slapping inefficiency. The Irish (2-2) rolled up 398 yards that in Kelly’s own 80-yards-equals-seven-points math left them about three touchdowns shy. It was a step in the right direction like tripping over a doorjamb is forward progress.

 Trailing 12-7 with 11 minutes, 30 seconds remaining, the Irish unearthed enough efficiency to survive. Rees was 8-for-8 on an 85-yard drive to the winning score, a Tyler Eifert touchdown grab plus two-point conversion.

  Pittsburgh (2-2) took its ensuing possession to the Irish 40-yard-line, but two of Notre Dame’s six sacks erased the threat.


 „A win is a win,” reiterated Rees, who started 12 of 27 but then hit 12 of his last 14 attempts for 216 yards total. „We were on the road against a good Pittsburgh team and all we can ask for is coming out with a win.”

Northern Illinois 47, Cal Poly 30

DEKALB — Chandler Harnish passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as Northern Illinois held on to defeat Cal Poly 47-30 Saturday at Huskie Stadium.


 Harnish set the NIU career record for touchdowns accounted for with 66, breaking the mark set by George Bork, who quarterbacked the Huskies’ 1963 national small college championship team. Harnish completed 18 of 21 passes for 187 yards and two TDs. He rushed for 118 yards and a score.

Jasmin Hopkins led NIU in rushing with a career-high 143 yards on 22 carries. He added a pair of TDs.

  The Huskies took a 34-7 first-half lead before watching the Mustangs score 23 second-half points. NIU improved to 2-2 with the victory; Cal Poly fell to 1-3.

  Coach Dave Doeren said he was looking for a „clean game” from his team to close out the non-conference schedule. With a 49-7 shellacking from Wisconsin that featured at least six dropped passes and several missed tackles fresh in their minds, NIU players insisted all week that they were not looking past Cal Poly (1-2), even though the Mustangs are an FCS school.

 NIU scored on its opening drive when Mathew Sims kicked a 22-yard field goal with 12:03 left in the first period. The 8-play drive covered 63 yards and included a 31-yard run by quarterback Chandler Harnish.

  Jasmin Hopkins capped a 7-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run with 8:53 to go in the opening quarter and NIU took a 10-0 lead.

 Sims connected on his second field goal from 44 yards out with 2:10 left in the first quarter to give the Huskies a 13-0 lead. The kick concluded a 9-play, 29-yard drive after Courtney Stephen had partially blocked a Mustangs punt.

  Freshman speedster Tommylee Lewis tallied on an 8-yard run at the end of a 6-play, 65-yard drive to put the Huskies on top 20-0 early in the third period.

Cal Poly finally penetrated NIU territory, but James Langford’s 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide.

  Harnish ran 29 yards for a score to make it 27-0 with 8:32 left until halftime.

Cal Poly scored on a 2-yard run by quarterback Andre Broadus with 5:39 remaining in the second period. The scoring drive covered 85 yards in 8 plays. Langford’s kick made the score 27-7. Fullback Jake Romanelli ran for 38 yards on that drive.

The first-half scoring ended with Harnish passing 3 yards to Perez Ashford to give NIU a 34-7 cushion.

  The Huskies and Mustangs were meeting for the first time in the history of the schools. Cal Poly was coming off a 48-14 victory over South Dakota State.

Cal Poly came out and dominated the third quarter, pulling to within 34-17 after scoring on a 26-yard pass from David Mahr to Mark Rodgers.

 Langford then added a 33-yard field goal with 3:52 left in the third quarter.


Source: ; Chicago Tribune

Photos: Jacek Urbanczyk/Polish News