Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 12/31/11
LOS ANGELES -- Dubbed the "Interim Bowl," the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between Illinois and UCLA featured lame duck coaching staffs on both sides. Offensively, both sides were pretty lame as well. The two teams combined for 184 total yards in the first half but it was in the second half that Illinois found their groove in a 20-14 win. For UCLA (6-8), it was a case of mistaken identity. It was Kevin Prince pass, after pass, after pass. His first three attempts of the game were all deep shots down the field. He connected on one of those for 30 yards to Shaquelle Evans. Prince threw the ball 29 times and was sacked five times behind a patchwork offensive line. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus sacked Prince twice, giving him an FBS leading 16.5 sacks on the season, which is also an Illinois single season record. "We all knew coming in their front seven was going to be tough to handle. He's the best defensive end in the country and he was back there causing havoc," wide receiver Taylor Embree told FOX Sports Radio. The Bruins, who came into the game averaging 190.7 yards per game on the ground, they mustered just eight rush yards in the first half but managed a 7-3 halftime lead. "We felt confident coming into this game but Illinois' a good defense," said offensive lineman Jeff Baca to FOX Sports Radio. It was a huge defensive play for the Illini that turned the tide of the game. On a second and eight from their own 34, Prince was looking for Evans running an out route. It was jumped by Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne and he had nothing but green in front of him, taking it back 39 yards for the Illini's first touchdown of the game. It gave Illinois (7-6) their first lead of the game, 10-7, with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. While the Illini offense was far from spectacular in the second half, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase proved too much for the Bruins to handle. He asserted himself in the second half. Scheelhaase started to run more creating havoc for the UCLA defense, which was impenetrable in the first half. The sophomore quarterback rushed for 75 of his 110 yards in the second half. But his biggest strike was with his arm when he found A.J. Jenkins on a 60-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage against the UCLA zone. It was the Illini's first offensive touchdown of the game and the dagger in the Bruins' heart, giving them a two possession lead with 5:38 left in the game. Scheelhaase finished with 258 total yards. 110 came on the ground, 139 through the air, and he also caught a pass for nine yards. 181 of those yards came in the second half. "I watched him play in high school," said Embree. "You could just tell how tough he is. He's a football player. He's a tough guy and he made plays when he needed to." The Bruins got on the board when Prince found Embree for a 16-yard touchdown with 10:02 left in the second quarter. Prince completed 14 of 29 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. UCLA allowed just 118 yards from Illinois in the first half and the three points they gave up were the least allowed since the three points they gave up at Texas in a win last season. The Bruins will now look to the Jim L. Mora to begin. Mora has said he'll have his first meeting with the team on January 9th.
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