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Illinois 20, UCLA 14 (final)

December 31, 2011 |  4:00 pm


UCLA has made college football history.

The Bruins are the first bowl team to ever finish a season with eight losses.

Illinois snapped a six-game losing streak with a 20-14 win over UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The Illini finished with a record of 7-6. UCLA ended up 6-8.

Both teams played with interim head coaches. Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning got the win filling in for the fired Ron Zook before Tim Beckman takes over.

PHOTOS: UCLA vs. Illinois in the Fight Hunger Bowl

UCLA offensive coordinator Mike Johnson took the loss standing in for fired Rick Neuheisel before Jim Mora takes over.

Koenning’s defense definitely got the best of Johnson’s offense in Illinois' first win since Oct. 8, when it defeated Indiana.

Mora is a defensive specialist, but it appears he has his work cut out for him on both sides of scrimmage.

Illinois was playing without leading rusher Jason Ford, who became academically ineligible after the regular season. Yet it was UCLA that was incapable of running. The Bruins netted only 18 yards in 30 carries.

UCLA surpassed 200 total yards only because of a 38-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Prince to Nelson Rosario with 29 seconds left in the game.

UCLA’s other touchdown came on a 16-yard pass from Prince to Taylor Embree at the end of a 45-yard scoring drive in the second quarter. The short march was set up when the Bruins' defense stuffed Illinois on a fourth-down run.

From then on, it was all Illinois.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase passed for 139 yards, ran for 110 yards and even caught a nine-yard pass.

Prince completed 14 of 29 passes for 202 yards. He had one pass intercepted by Terry Hawthorne, who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.

Illinois 20, UCLA 7 (5:36 left in fourth quarter)

The Illini nearly doubled their passing total on the play that accounted for the offense's first touchdown today.

Nathan Scheelhaase connected with A.J. Jenkins on a 60-yard pass play and Illinois now looks to be well on its way to snapping its six-game losing streak.

Illinois has passed for 139 yards -- 130 by Scheelhaase, who is also the game's leading rusher with 110 yards in 22 carries.

Illinois 13, UCLA 7 (12:17 left in fourth quarter)

Derek Dimke's 37-yard field goal has extended Illinois' lead.

To this point in the game, UCLA's offense has been next to non existent.

Illinois is the team without its leading rusher, but the Illini has 101 yards rushing from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase while UCLA, which is at full strength, has 36 yards in 24 carries. 

Scheelhaase has as many yards rushing as UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince has passing.

--Mike Hiserman

Illinois 10, UCLA 7 (43 seconds left in the third quarter)

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince’s second touchdown pass put Illinois ahead.

Prince floated a pass into the flat toward Bruins’ receiver Shaquelle Evans. Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne picked the pass and went 39 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

UCLA 7, Illinois 3 (halftime)

If you blinked during the Alamo Bowl, you risked missing Baylor or Washington doing something spectacular on offense.

You could have taken a nap while watching UCLA and Illinois during the first half Saturday and not missed a thing.

Neither the Bruins nor the Illini exhibited much offensive prowess.

UCLA had one scoring chance, and cashed it in, though it required a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Illinois' Akeem Spence to keep the drive alive.

Spence was called for the penalty after the Bruins came up a yard short on a third-and-15 play from midfield. Quarterback Kevin Prince cashed in that mistake, tossing a 16-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Embree for a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes 2 seconds left in the first half.

Illini had more opportunities, twice getting inside the UCLA 30-yard line.

Illinois was stopped the first time when kicker Derek Dimke was tackled for a four-yard loss on a fake field goal.

After defensive end Michael Buchman recovered a fumble, Illinois moved to the Bruins' three-yard line, but Glenn Love sacked quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase for a 15-yard loss and the Illini settled for Dimke’s 35-yard field goal.

Illinois has 118 total yards at halftime and UCLA 65.

UCLA 7, Illinois 0 (10:02 second quarter)

It took 19 minutes and 58 seconds but someone finally scored in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Kevin Prince completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Embree on a fade pattern.

The Bruins went 45 yards in five plays after defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa stopped Illinois running back Donovan Young on a fourth-and-one play.

The Bruins' drive was extended when Illinois’ Akeem Spence was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.


UCLA quarterback Darius Bell did not suit up for the Bruins’ game against Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday.

Bell, a junior, wants to preserve this season as a redshirt year. Nick Crissman is the backup to starting quarterback Kevin Prince.

Bell practiced with the team this week. He has played only once since coming to UCLA in the spring of 2009. Bell had three incomplete passes, one of which was intercepted, in one quarter against Washington in 2010.

--Chris Foster

Photo: UCLA teammates celebrate with linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (35) after he intercepted an Illinois pass in the first half Saturday. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press