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Big plays help Missouri win

Late takeaways and Maclin's returns lead No. 6 Tigers to a 52-42 victory over No. 20 Illinois.

August 31, 2008|From the Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Missouri and Illinois played another wild one, and again the sixth-ranked Tigers held on for the win.

Sean Weatherspoon bailed out a leaky Missouri defense with two late takeaways and Jeremy Maclin had a 99-yard kickoff return and a 45-yard punt return before leaving in the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury in the Tigers' 52-42 victory over No. 20 Illinois on Saturday night.

Juice Williams completed 28 of 42 passes for 456 yards for the Illini, more than doubling his previous career high of 227 yards, and threw for a career-best fifth touchdown on the final play. Chris Duvalt and Will Judson each caught two touchdown passes, and Judson was wide open on a 65-yarder that cut the deficit to 45-35 early in the fourth quarter.

Maclin, who finished with 206 all-purpose yards, lost his balance while running a pattern away from the play. He covered his face with a towel while being carted off the field from the Missouri sideline. He returned to the sidelines on crutches and still in uniform, his foot wrapped in ice.

Weatherspoon stopped one fourth-quarter drive with an interception at the Missouri 26, then he ripped the ball out of Daniel Dufrene's hands after a reception and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown and a 52-35 lead.

They were among the handful of big plays from a Missouri defense that has 10 starters back.

Illinois added one more score and the teams surpassed the total of last year's track meet in St. Louis, when Missouri won, 40-34.

Derrick Washington had 126 yards in 19 carries and two touchdowns in his first start for Missouri.

Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Daniel and Missouri ran off 21 straight points to go ahead, 31-10, at the half and then answered an Illinois touchdown to open the second half with two quick scores.

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