Stave, Ball lead Wisconsin over Illinois 31-14
Ball finishes strong after quiet first half
MADISON, Wis. — Redshirt freshman Joel Stave threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns, and Montee Ball ran for a pair of fourth-quarter scores as the host Badgers rebounded from last week’s tough loss at Nebraska.
After Ball’s first touchdown gave his team some breathing room, Stave’s 59-yard bomb to Jared Abbrederis put Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) ahead 24-7 with 11:40 left. Ball overcame a slow start to finish with 116 yards while moving into a tie for third place on the all-time FBS list with his 68th and 69th career touchdowns.
Nathan Scheelhaase passed for 178 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 84 yards and a score for Illinois (2-4, 0-2), which has dropped seven of its last eight against Wisconsin.
Both teams capitalized on second-quarter interceptions to help overcome ineffective offenses as the teams entered the break tied 7-7. The Illini struck first, converting Steve Hull’s interception return into a touchdown two plays later as Scheelhaase scrambled for a 5-yard score.
Wisconsin knotted it when James White took a third-down screen pass and raced 62 yards into the end zone 3:26 before halftime. Kyle French slid a 46-yard field goal inside the right upright to give the Badgers a 10-7 edge with 5:53 to go in the third.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Abbrederis caught seven passes for 117 yards, the first Wisconsin WR to have three straight 100-plus-yard games since Lee Evans in 2001. … Devin Smith’s interception that led to Wisconsin’s first-half touchdown was the Badgers’ first of the season. … Illini senior DB Terry Hawthorne gave a thumbs’ up while leaving on a stretcher after his third-quarter tackle on Derek Watt. He was later reported to have movement in all his extremities.