Wisconsin's Davis too much for Illini

Sunday, October 3, 2004

MADISON, Wis. -- Anthony Davis made up for his missed month in a hurry.

Davis returned from an eye injury Saturday and sparked No. 20 Wisconsin's 24-7 victory over Illinois by rushing for 213 yards and three touchdowns.

Davis took care of a stagnant offense, and the defense was as dominant as ever. The Badgers (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) held their fifth straight opponent to a touchdown or less, a feat they last achieved in 1951.

Davis carried 27 times, and his biggest run was his last: a 31-yard rumble into the end zone on fourth-and-3 with three minutes left after the Illini (2-3, 0-2) had pulled within 10 points.

"We were hoping to get off the field," Illinois cornerback James Cooper said. "That really hurt us."

Davis burst through the line and slipped strong safety Morris Virgil at the 20, then trotted into the end zone, where he was flagged for excessive celebrating.

Who could blame him?

Davis, who sat out the last 3 1/2 games with an orbital fracture in his right eye, also scored on runs of 16 and 7 yards and set up Mike Allen's 48-yard field goal with a 27-yard run.

The Illini punted on all five of their first-half possessions in falling behind 10-0.

Illinois' Steve Weatherford missed a 47-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter and the Badgers drove 70 yards for another touchdown by Davis that made it 17-0.

The Illini finally caught a break when Cooper sacked John Stocco and forced a fumble that linebacker Joe Mele smothered at the Wisconsin 34.

Six plays later, third-string quarterback Chris Pazan zipped a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Melvin Bryant to pull Illinois to 17-7 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Badgers replied with a 70-yard drive capped by Davis' 31-yard run.

"It was 17-7. If we get a stop and get a drive and score, we're back in it," Illinois coach Ron Turner said. "That play was a backbreaker."

A week after forcing Penn State to use three quarterbacks because of injuries, the Badgers forced the Illini to use three QBs because of ineffective play.

Jon Beutjer was 12 of 27 for 85 yards and backup Brad Bower was 1 of 4 for 12 yards before Pazan finished up with 67 yards on 7-of-10 passing.

S. Illinois 40, N. Iowa 36

An interception by Marlon Heaston in the final seconds of the fourth quarter solidified Southern Illinois' 40-36 victory over Northern Iowa Saturday.

Trailing by four points late in the fourth quarter, Northern Iowa (1-3, 0-1) marched downfield with the help of backup quarterback Eric Sanders.

Sanders completed 5-of-7 passes to get the Panthers to the Southern Illinois 20-yard line with 10 seconds remaining. On the ensuing play, Heaston picked off Sanders' pass at the 2-yard line as time expired.

Despite five fumbles, including four in the first half, Southern Illinois (4-1, 1-0) overcame a 26-14 halftime deficit.

--From wire reports

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