Fresno State stuns Illinois 53-52 - KMOV.com

Fresno State stuns Illinois 53-52

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Illinois' Juice Williams (7) breaks free of the Fresno State's defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman Illinois' Juice Williams (7) breaks free of the Fresno State's defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman
Illinois coach Ron Zook shouts from the sidelines while playing against Fresno State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman Illinois coach Ron Zook shouts from the sidelines while playing against Fresno State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman
Fresno State's Devon Wylie (7) looks for running room against Illinois during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman Fresno State's Devon Wylie (7) looks for running room against Illinois during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman
Fresno State's Ryan Mathews (21) carrie sthe ball as  Illinois' Chris Duvalt moves in during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman Fresno State's Ryan Mathews (21) carrie sthe ball as Illinois' Chris Duvalt moves in during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman
Fresno State's Ryan Mathews (21) goes over Illinois' Chris Duvalt (15) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. Fresno State won 53-52. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman Fresno State's Ryan Mathews (21) goes over Illinois' Chris Duvalt (15) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec 5, 2009. Fresno State won 53-52. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) By Seth Perlman

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Offensive lineman Devan Cunningham caught a deflected pass with 2 seconds left and stumbled into the end zone for a 2-point conversion, giving Fresno State a wild 53-52 victory over Illinois on Saturday.

Ryan Colburn capped a 67-yard drive by hitting Jamel Hamler for the last touchdown. Hamler caught the ball at the 5 and stretched across the goal line just as his knee hit the turf.

Fresno State coach Pat Hall called a timeout and huddled with his offense, opting to go for the win rather than kicking the extra point and forcing overtime. The Bulldogs lost a double-overtime heartbreaker at Wisconsin earlier in the season.

Colburn rolled right with the ball and, under heavy pressure, flung a prayer toward Hamler just inside the goal line that was batted away and brought down by Cunningham. The 350-pound line leaned through a crowd of players at the 2-yard line and landed on the orange endzone turf.

Officials review the play and ruled that an Illinois defense back had tipped the ball, not a Fresno State player, allowing anybody to catch it.

Colburn finished 13 of 31 for 183 yards with three total touchdowns for Fresno State (8-4), as the teams combined for 964 yards of total offense -- 564 of it on the ground. Their 105 combined points set a new scoring record for 86-year-old Memorial Stadium.

Fresno had 233 yards rushing, including 173 on 32 carries by Ryan Mathews.

Illinois (3-9) was led by sophomore back Mikel LeShoure, who carried the ball 11 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass from Juice Williams.

Williams, Ron Zook's first marquee recruit at Illinois, ended his career with three losing seasons in his four as a starter. He was 8 of 16 for 211 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran for 56 yards on 14 carries.

The Illini gouged the Fresno State defense for 331 yards on the ground, and led 28-21 at halftime after Arrelious Benn swiped the ball from defensive back Desia Dunn for a 58-yard touchdown pass.

Fresno scored the first 10 points of the second half, then traded scores blow-for-blow with the Illini in a half in which the defenses were conspicuously absent.

Fresno State is likely headed to the New Mexico Bowl or Hawaii Bowl, while Illinois wraps up its second straight losing season. Illini athletic director Ron Guenther has said Zook's job is safe, but also said other coaching staff changes may be needed.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 

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