ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Missouri and Illinois played another wild one, and again the Tigers held on for the win.
Sean Weatherspoon bailed out a leaky Missouri defense with two late takeaways late and Jeremy Maclin had a 99-yard kickoff return and 45-yard punt return before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury in a the Tigers' 52-42 victory over No. 20 Illinois on Saturday night.
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Juice Williams was 28-for-42 for 456 yards for the Illini, more than doubling his previous career best of 227 yards, and threw for a career-best fifth touchdown on the final play. Chris Duvalt and Will Judson each caught two touchdown passes, and Judson was wide open on a 65-yarder that cut the deficit to 45-35 with early in the fourth quarter.
Maclin, who finished with 206 all-purpose yards, lost his balance while running a pattern away from the play. He covered his face with a towel while being carted off the field from the Missouri sideline. He returned to the sidelines on crutches and still in uniform, his foot wrapped in ice.
Weatherspoon stopped one fourth-quarter drive with an interception at the Missouri 26, then he ripped the ball out of Daniel Dufrene's hands after a reception and returned it 35 yards for touchdown and a 52-35 lead.
Illinois added one more meaningless score and the teams easily surpassed the total of last year's track meet in the St. Louis, when Missouri held off an Illini rally and won 40-34.
They were among the handful of big plays from a defense that has 10 starters back and was expected to be much improved.
Derrick Washington added 126 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns in his first career start for Missouri.
Justifying its highest preseason ranking in school history on one side of the ball, Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Daniel and Missouri ran off 21 straight points to go ahead 31-10 at the half and then answered an Illinois touchdown to open the second half with two quick scores that seemingly put the game out of range at 45-20.
Derek Walker's 34-yard interception return of Daniel's pass gave the Fighting Illini their only lead at 13-10. It was quickly erased on Maclin's kickoff return. Maclin ran into the end zone with fingers to his lips, an attempt to silence the Illinois fans.
The game sold out for the first time since the schools went to a neutral site this decade, with announced attendance of 66,441. The Edward Jones Dome was pretty much equally divided between orange-clad Illinois backers and yellow-clad Missouri partisans.
Missouri's Jeff Wolfert hit a 51-yard field goal in the first half, 3 yards off his own school record and his 17th straight successful attempt.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)