Winning not a numbers game for Illini

2011-11-13T01:00:00Z 2011-11-13T20:13:46Z Winning not a numbers game for IlliniBy MARK TUPPER H&R Executive Sports Editor

CHAMPAIGN - Some statistical achievements by the Illini football team would normally be accompanied by smiles and a feel-good attitude.

But the team's losing streak, which reached four games after Saturday's 31-14 loss to Michigan, has clouded some of those accomplishments.

Defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who entered Saturday's game leading the nation in sacks and forced fumbles, added to both totals against Michigan. Mercilus got another sack and now has 12.5 on the season, moving him into sole possession of third place on the Illini single-season list.

When he sacked Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, he also forced a fumble. That was his seventh forced fumble this season, which increases his school-record single-season total and is tied for the second-highest total in Big Ten history.

Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins had eight catches for 103 yards and in the process recorded his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season. Jenkins' eight catches gives him 76 on the season (now fourth on the Illinois single-season list) and 153 for his career (now sixth on the school's all-time list).

Jenkins improves his total to 1,133 yards receiving this season, moving him up to third place on the school's single-season list. He is now 146 yards from breaking David Williams' school-record of 1,278 receiving yards, set in 1984.

Running back Jason Ford scored his 26th career touchdown with a one-yard run in the fourth quarter. That moves him into second place on the Illini career list, trailing only Howard Griffith, who scored 31 touchdowns.

And finally, the Illini defense entered the game ranked sixth nationally in tackles for loss, averaging

8 per game. Illinois recorded nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage against Michigan.

Boot a precaution

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said a boot he was wearing on his left foot was just a precaution after suffering a sprained ankle early in Saturday's game.

"I was able to play on it," he said. "In fact, most of my runs came after I sprained it. It's a typical ankle sprain but our trainers are very cautious with those. It won't keep me out of practice on Monday. I'll be fine."

The one injury head coach Ron Zook categorized as potentially serious occurred to safety Steve Hull, who was hit in the lower back and experienced numbness in his hands. Zook said Hull was taken for more evaluation and he had yet to hear the results.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson left the game with a bruised wrist but head coach Brady Hoke said Robinson was not seriously hurt and could have returned.

Extra points

Scheelhaase carried 16 times for 63 yards, but yardage lost from four sacks helped subtract 49 yards from his total, giving him

14 net yards.

. . . Defensive back Tavon Wilson led the Illini with

11 tackles. Akeem Spence, Jonathon Brown and Ian Thomas each had nine tackles. Brown was credited with three tackles for a loss.

. . . It was a big day for Michigan tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint. He carried 27 times for 192 yards including a 65-yard run on the second play of the game.

. . . Next up for the Illini is a Senior Day home game against Wisconsin on Saturday. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.|421-7983

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