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Illinois struggles, loses to Gophers

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS -- Terry Jackson II rushed for a career-high 159 yards and Thomas Tapeh added 113 yards and a touchdown Thursday night to lead Minnesota past struggling Illinois 31-10.

"I'm pleased," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said. "We did fairly well."

Asad Abdul-Khaliq was 15-for-27 for 144 yards, throwing one touchdown and an interception. He also ran for a touchdown for the Golden Gophers (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten).

"We had something to prove," Abdul-Khaliq said. "We flopped last week, myself especially. So we came out with more focus this week and made plays."

Brandon Lloyd caught five passes for 139 yards for the defending Big Ten champion Fighting Illini (1-5, 0-2), who replaced quarterback Jon Beutjer late in the third quarter with Dustin Ward.

The Illini had switched from Ward to Beutjer for the home opener against Arkansas State, their lone victory, after the offense scored just two touchdowns in losses to Southern Mississippi and Missouri.

A sign that, again, it wasn't Illinois' night: Ward hit Lloyd for a 49-yard pass on his first drive to the Minnesota 8, but fullback Carey Davis fumbled on the next play and the Gophers recovered.

Beutjer was 14-for-29 for 165 yards and a touchdown. He fumbled three times, losing one.

"We're beating ourselves," Beutjer said. "We're making too many mistakes and that'll kill you. We know what we're capable of -- we've just got to think positive."

"We need some success -- we've got to fight through it," Illinois coach Ron Turner said. "We're frustrated -- we've got to keep fighting and turn this thing around."

The Gophers, who surpassed last season's victory total of four, were missing defensive captain Mike Lehan, their best defensive back, with a deep thigh bruise against the conference's top passing offense.

The Illini punted on their first six possessions (five in the first quarter) and the offense didn't score until Walter Young's 16-yard touchdown reception midway through the second quarter.

Beutjer's pass on the two-point conversion attempt was tipped, but Young snagged it and got one foot in the end zone before he fell out of bounds to tie it at 10.

Eugene Wilson intercepted Abdul-Khaliq on the next possession, the Illini's first pick of the season after 185 pass attempts by their opponents. But after driving Illinois 73 yards in 10 plays to the Minnesota 2, Beutjer fumbled as he was sacked by Bradley Vance.

Mike Losli fell on the ball for the Gophers with 2:10 left before halftime. Tapeh capped an 86-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on the half's final play to put the Gophers up 17-10.

The Gophers took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 73 yards in nine plays, finishing with Abdul-Khaliq's 11-yard scramble for a touchdown.

Minnesota's Jermaine Mays blocked Matt Minnes' punt and recovered it in the end zone to make it 31-10 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Abdul-Khaliq appeared to reaggravate a right ankle sprain he suffered last weekend against Purdue. On crutches on the sideline, Abdul-Khaliq watched backup Benji Kamrath run the offense the rest of the way.

With a 23-yard field goal in the second quarter, Dan Nystrom became Minnesota's all-time leader in field goals with 58 -- passing Chip Lohmiller.

Only 32,663 fans showed up. The game was moved up two days because the Minnesota Twins are using the Metrodome on Saturday for Game 4 of their AL division series against Oakland. This was Minnesota's smallest crowd for a Big Ten game since 31,293 watched the Purdue game on Oct.9, 1993.

CUMBERLAND: Two men were charged with murder in the shooting death of a Cumberland player whose body was found in a lake.

Brandon C. Arnold and Brandon L. Biggerstaff were charged with first-degree murder, according to Nashville police. A 17-year-old suspect also will be charged.

The body of a 20-year-old Michael Bochette Jr. was found Tuesday inside his truck submerged in a lake.

"This particular homicide was the result of a drug transaction," said Roy Dunaway, a detective with the Nashville Police Department. "He was to meet the three suspects and sell them the drug called ecstasy."

NOTRE DAME: Quarterback Carlyle Holiday said he feels well enough to play Saturday against Stanford. But coach Tyrone Willingham won't decide who will play until game day.

"We'll wait right up to the last moment to make that decision," Willingham said. "Carlyle has progressed well. We're pleased with what he's done."

Holiday, who has led No.9 Notre Dame to its first 4-0 start in nine years, said he would describe the feeling in his left shoulder as more of an irritation than pain.

"I can play," Holiday said. "It's not 100 percent, but it feels good."

He said he doesn't think there are any limits on what he can do. He said he can throw and run with the ball in his left hand. He won't know how well he can take a hit until he takes one, he said. In practice, though, it felt fine, he said.

"When you sleep on it or something, that's the only irritation you get. But out here in practice, throwing the ball around, you really don't feel any effect," he said.

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