No. 1 Defense Holds in Second Half

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was a tale of two halves at Illinois' Memorial Stadium, Saturday in the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game. The Blue Squad (representing the first offense and second defense) found a rhythm in the first half, putting up 17 points to lead. But the second stanza belonged to the Orange Squad as the first defense buckled down to allow no scoring and the second offense scored 20 unanswered points for the 20-17 win.

It took the Blue squad just one series before they found a groove offensively. After a three and out on their first series, the Blue scored on three consecutive drives, including two touchdowns and a field goal. With 3:33 minutes left in the first quarter, Tim Brasic found Frank Lenti Jr. for a 51 yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.

An interception by Justin Harrison set up the next Blue score. Harrison caught the ball at the Orange 41 yard line and returned it 32 yards to the nine. Three plays later, Brasic completed the three-yard touchdown pass to J.R. Kraemer.

Up 14-0 on two quick touchdown strikes, the Blue showed their ability to march down the field in their next drive. Starting on their 28 yard line with 9:01 left in the second quarter, the Blue covered 61 yards to set up a 28-yard Jason Reda field goal. E.B. Halsey picked up 27 rushing yards on three attempts during the drive, while Pierre Thomas rushed for 19 yard on three attempts.

With the Blue leading 17-0, the Orange squad found an answer in the second half. The defense forced a three and out on the first drive. Then the offense took over around midfield driving to the 22 yard line where Jason Reda provided a 39 yard field goal. Sophomore fullback Walter Mendenhall saw the brunt of the work in the drive, carrying the ball three times for 25 yards.

The Orange squad found the end zone for the first time at the 11:38 mark of the fourth quarter. Jody Ellis broke free for a 44 yard touchdown reception from quarterback Billy Garza.

Walter Mendenhall provided the tying touchdown score for the Orange with 8:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. He broke free on a 35-yard screen pass, which was set up by two Rashard Mendenhall rushes for 30 yards.

With the scored tied at 17, the Orange began a drive with a reverse by receiver Jody Ellis which resulted in 29 yards. The big play set up the would-be winning 32-yard field goal by Reda at 4:10.

The Orange Squad was led defensively by defensive tackle Josh Norris and linebacker Brit Miller with seven stops apiece. For the Blue Squad it was linebackers Sam Carson with seven tackles, one for loss and three passes broken up, and Anthony Thornhill who recorded six stops and a tackle for loss.


Best effort on Offense - Akim Millington (OT)

Best Effort on Defense - Derek Walker (DE)/Alan Ball (CB)

Most improved offensive player - Charles Myles (OT)

Most improved defensive player - Will Davis (DE)

Most Improved Walk-on Offense- Jacob Willis (WR)

Most Improved Walk-on Defense - David Lindquist (DT)

Faculty award - J. Leman (LB)

Highest academic average - 3.7 GPA Ryan McDonald (C)

Story courtesy of U of I.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories