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    Nov. 8, 1997

    Northwestern Defeats Illinois

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Chris Hamdorf threw three touchdown passes -- two to John Burden in the third quarter -- as Northwestern dealt Big Ten Conference foe Illinois its school record-tying 15th straight loss, 34-21.

    Adrian Autry ran for 111 yards and a touchdown and Brian Gowins kicked two field goals for the Wildcats (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten), who snapped a two-game skid of their own. Northwestern is 2-6 after a 2-1 start.

    It has been a long season for Illinois (0-9, 0-6), which had an early 7-0 lead but stumbled again, matching the school record for consecutive losses set from 1960-62. The Fighting Illini, who visit Ohio State new week, are one loss from matching the 0-10 campaign in 1969 as the worst start in school history.

    Hamdorf completed 15-of-19 passes for 183 yards. A fumbled punt by Illinois' Robert Jackson set up his 12-yard TD pass to Brian Musso that tied it, 7-7, with 2:32 left in the first quarter.

    Burden caught touchdown passes of 31 and 25 yards from Hamdorf less than five minutes apart in the third quarter, giving the Wildcats a 34-7 lead.

    Autry capped a 64-yard march in 11 plays with a seven-yard TD run with 9:53 to go in the second quarter that gave Northwestern the lead for good at 14-7. Gowins added kicks of 38 and 44 yards -- the second set up by another fumbled punt -- to give the Wildcats a 20-7 halftime advantage.

    Mark Hoekstra replaced and ineffective freshman Tim Lavery and completed 12-of-20 for 118 yards and a touchdown. Lavery threw an early TD pass to Steve Hayard but was 8-of-15 for just 45 yards and an interception.

    Illinois tailback Robert Holcombe had 18 carries for 87 yards and a fourth-quarter TD, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the third straight season. He also caught five passes for 45 yards, including a 28-yarder from Hoekstra that completed the scoring.

    The Fighting Illini hold a 47-49-5 edge in the all-time series but the Wildcats have won the last three meetings. Northwestern outgained Illinois, 390-234.