With quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase injured, Ashante Williams returned an interception 60 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown to help Illinois and new coach Tim Beckman hang on for a 24-7 win Saturday over Western Michigan in the season opener for both teams.
The Illini opened up a 17-0 lead but their offense stalled when Scheelhaase left the game with an ankle injury late in the third quarter.
The Broncos came to life and pulled to within 17-7 with an 8-yard touchdown from Alex Carder to Jaime Wilson just before the end of the quarter.
Western Michigan was driving again when Williams picked off Carder to douse the comeback.
Scheelhaase was 11 of 18 for 126 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for a touchdown.
Carder finished 26 of 43 for 239 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.