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CHAMPAIGN, IL (WKZO) – Marked by four turnovers, the Bronco offense fell short in their 24-7 season opening loss to Illinois. While the offense finished with 259 total yards compared to Illinois’ 248, the difference was in the details.
Senior quarterback Alex Carder struggled to find a rhythm with his new set of receivers, finishing the game 26-for-43 with three interceptions, and was sacked twice.
After the game, Carder called this performance “the worst of his career”.
The Broncos found the end zone in the third quarter when Alex Carder completed an 8 yard slant to freshman Jaime Wilson. The upstart freshman receiver was targeted eight times in the game for 59 yards.
Expected to set up the pass, the Broncos running game struggled just as much, combining for a net gain of -6 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase finished 9-for-14 passing with 106 yards and a touchdown. He added 19 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Illini made the most of Western’s turnovers, scoring late in the fourth on an interception to put the game out of reach.
The bright spot for Western Michigan was their defense that saw 35:02 of playing time. Johnny Simon recorded a game-leading 18 tackles, including 10 unassisted. Donald Celiscar ended a third quarter Illini drive with an interception in the endzone to go with six solo tackles.
After the game, head coach Bill Cubit remained confident that his team “learned a lot about themselves today”, adding “they’ll be ready to go next week”.
Western Michigan heads back to the drawing board for their home opener next Saturday with Eastern Illinois. The Broncos were undefeated at Waldo Stadium last year, and look forward to the first of six home games in 2012.
Robin Hook has the call on 96.5 FM WKZO at 6 pm.Brought to you by Metro PCS and Taco Bell.