Scores

Final

Louisiana Tech 52

(3-0, 2-0 away)

Illinois 24

(2-2, 2-1 home)

Coverage: BTN

8:00 PM ET, September 22, 2012

Memorial Stadium, CHAMPAIGN, IL

1 2 3 4 T
LT 21 0 24 752
ILL 7 10 0 724

Top Performers

Passing: C. Cameron (LT) - 284 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: T. King (LT) - 11 CAR, 53 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: Q. Patton (LT) - 6 REC, 164 YDS, 2 TD

Louisiana Tech takes advantage of 6 Illini turnovers in win

Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Louisiana Tech came to Illinois Saturday averaging 56 points a game. It's safe to say Bulldogs don't need much help finding the scoreboard.

They got it anyway, from an Illinois team that couldn't hold onto the ball.

The Bulldogs (3-0) turned six Illinois turnovers and four touchdown passes from quarterback Colby Cameron into a 52-24 road upset of the Illini (2-2).

And not just an upset for the Western Athletic Conference school, but a blowout.

The Bulldogs led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter on Illinois' first three turnovers, and dominated the Illini, never trailing again.

"I thought we played a lot more physical up front today than we have and made better plays on the football," Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. "I think we gained a lot of confidence in the first half just because we had a lead."

Cameron's favorite target was Quinton Patton who caught six balls for 164 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs.

Cameron and Patton connected on a pair of early third-quarter touchdowns that put the Bulldogs up for good, 35-17.

"Regardless of who you're playing you're not going to win football games if you turn the football over and give up big strikes," Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. "I credit Louisiana Tech -- I think Louisiana Tech's got a good football team. But we still have to play much better."

After missing the past two games with a sprained ankle, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was ineffective and left the game in the first quarter. Reilly O'Toole was 19 of 25 for 120 yards in his place.

The Bulldog defense sacked Illinois' quarterbacks five times.

Illinois climbed back into the game in the second quarter, turning a 21-7 deficit to a manageable 21-17 while holding the Bulldogs to three yards of offense.

The Bulldogs doused whatever spark the Illini felt as they came out of the locker room for the third quarter. And, like everything else Louisiana Tech did, it happened fast.

On the quarter's second play Cameron hit Patton deep down the right sideline for a 78-yard touchdown and a 28-17 lead that silenced a chilly Memorial Stadium crowd. Patton caught the ball well behind cornerback Terry Hawthorne, one of Illinois' fastest players. And any helped he might have hoped for from his safeties never materialized.

After a three-and-out from Illinois and O'Toole, the Bulldogs turned in a nine-play, 73-yard drive that, it weren't for their no-huddle offense, might have chewed up four or five minutes. As it was, Cameron wrapped up the drive in well under three minutes, again finding Patton for a 21-yard touchdown.

Patton again ran by Hawthorne as he cut across the middle of the field and caught the ball near the goal line.

"We've got to try to create some more pressure on the quarterback and we've got to cover better," Beckman said. "I mean, you saw it."

For all of Louisiana Tech's quick-strike offensive ability, one special teams play summed a night of mistakes for Illinois.

Trailing 35-17, the Illini forced a punt and were about to get the ball back, but the punt bounced off the back of blocker Justin Green inside his own 5-yard line and into the end zone. The Bulldogs' Antonio Mitchum fell on the ball and, at 42-17 with more than four minutes left in the third quarter, the game was over.

"We talked in the past few weeks about finishing and that's what we worked on tonight. I think we decided to capitalize on that in the third quarter," Mitchum said.

Illinois' first three turnovers cost the Illini dearly. All in the first quarter, they staked Louisiana Tech to a 21-7 lead.

The last of those three was, for the Illini, the ugliest.

Scheelhaase ran away from heavy pressure but was caught as he headed for the sideline by linebacker Rufus Porter who punched the ball loose. Defensive end Vontarrius Dora grabbed the fumble at the Illinois 38 and returned it to the Illinois 23-yard line

King again turned the Illini mistake into points, scrambling in from the 5, hitting the goal line and losing the ball as he did.

Illinois challenged the touchdown call but, like much of what the Illini tried in the first quarter, it didn't work. Officials upheld the call.

Scheelhaase left the game after his fumble. He hadn't played since late in the opener against Western Michigan almost three weeks ago after spraining his left ankle.

"We weren't moving the ball so we decided as coaching staff, myself, that we'd give Reilly a chance," Beckman said, saying only that Scheelhaase looked Rusty.

O'Toole -- along with a mistake from the Bulldogs -- helped Illinois claw its way back into the game.

First Illinois turned a fumbled punt return by Craig Johnson deep in Bulldog territory into a 26-yard field goal by Taylor Zalewski to cut the gap to 21-10 with 12:14 left in the second quarter. Then O'Toole led Illinois on a methodical 13-play, 57 yard drive -- overcoming a holding penalty that wiped out a 25-yard gain -- that ended with a 1-yard touchdown by Donovonn Young. Illinois was back in the game, somehow down just four, 21-17, at the half.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
LT
ILL
1st Downs1720
Total Yards403324
Passing284205
Rushing119119
Penalties5-394-35
3rd Down Conversions3-117-15
4th Down Conversions0-00-2
Turnovers36
Possession23:4136:19

Passing Leaders

Louisiana TechC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Cameron15/2228412.940
IllinoisC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
O'Toole19/251204.800

Rushing Leaders

Louisiana TechCARYDSAVGTDLG
Dixon12574.8016
King10373.729
IllinoisCARYDSAVGTDLG
Young19784.1113
O'Toole12312.6111

Receiving Leaders

Louisiana TechRECYDSAVGTDLG
Patton616427.3278
White35317.7138
IllinoisRECYDSAVGTDLG
Ferguson10848.4024
Lankford55110.2118

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERLTILL
TD08:30Ryan Lankford 18 Yd Pass From Nathan Scheelhaase (Taylor Zalewski Kick) 07
TD05:58D.J. Banks 27 Yd Pass From Colby Cameron (Matt Nelson Kick) 77
TD04:37Tevin King 9 Yd Run (Matt Nelson Kick) 147
TD00:19Tevin King 5 Yd Run (Matt Nelson Kick) 217
SECOND QUARTERLTILL
FG12:14Taylor Zalewski 26 Yd 2110
TD04:01Donovonn Young 1 Yd Run (Taylor Zalewski Kick) 2117
THIRD QUARTERLTILL
TD14:15Quinton Patton 78 Yd Pass From Colby Cameron (Matt Nelson Kick) 2817
TD09:26Quinton Patton 21 Yd Pass From Colby Cameron (Matt Nelson Kick) 3517
TD04:27Antonio Mitchum Recovered Fumble In End Zone (Matt Nelson Kick) 4217
FG01:42Matt Nelson 32 Yd 4517
FOURTH QUARTERLTILL
TD10:39Myles White 38 Yd Pass From Colby Cameron (Matt Nelson Kick) 5217
TD05:20Reilly O'Toole 1 Yd Run (Taylor Zalewski Kick) 5224