Illinois blows lead in loss to No. 15 Wisconsin

By David Mercer

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Nov. 19 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Illinois' Terry Hawthorne let a punt sail over his head and toward his end zone. The 74-yarder finally stopped at the 3.

After a fast three-and-out, the Badgers took over at the Illini 44. Four plays later, Wilson faked an inside handoff to Ball and trotted around the left side to make it 21-17 as the third quarter ended.

Illinois opened the final period with another costly turnover on freshman quarterback Reilly O'Toole's interception. Ball capped the ensuing drive with a 17-yard run for his 30th touchdown of the season, extending his conference record.

Alternating quarterbacks, Illinois got off to a fast start and scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, one with each quarterback.

Nathan Scheelhaase was behind center for the first score, Young's 12-yard run early in the second quarter.

Defensive end Whitney Mercilus set up O'Toole later in the period.

With the wind finally at their backs, the Badgers offense started to move. Wilson hit Nick Toon for two quick, deep passes and Wisconsin was suddenly at the Illini 36.

When Wilson dropped back again, Mercilus hit him hard, forcing the ball loose. Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown grabbed it and returned it to the Wisconsin 36.

O'Toole and the Illini drove to the Badgers 1, where Young punched the ball in again. Young finished with 43 yards on eight carries before leaving in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.

The Illini had another second-quarter touchdown called back, a 15-yard pass from O'Toole to Jenkins. Officials flagged tight end Jon Davis for pass interference, a call that Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino criticized in a tense locker room after the game.

"It's a joke," he said.

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