Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 9/1/12

One thing is for sure- this Illinois Fighting Illini team can play some defense.

With starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase injured, safety 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.

However, they picked off Alex Carder, a very good MAC QB three times, and completely shut down the WMU running game. This was much more lopsided than last year’s three point decision.

Scheelhaase was 11 of 18 for 126 yards, a touchdown (a 64 yarder to Ryan Lankford) and an interception. He also ran for a touchdown.

Carder finished 26 of 43 for 239 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, Walter Football and Yardbarker

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too

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