Add another chapter to the story of Indiana football holding second half leads against top 20 opponents — and losing.
When the Hoosiers took a 21-20 lead late in the third quarter over Penn State, IU fans once again had hope. But then the wheels came off yet again. And it didn’t take long.
After a 3-yard Stevie Scott touchdown run gave the Hoosiers that 2nd half lead, the Nittany Lions took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards and scored from 5-yards out on the next play. The energy inside Memorial Stadium quickly dissipated with Penn State back in front 26-21 after a blocked extra point.
To their credit — Indiana kept fighting. But another special teams mistake would suck the life out of a still hopeful home crowd.
After Indiana forced an early fourth quarter punt, J-Shun Harris fielded the ball and looked to have a crease for a decent return. Instead, Harris was stripped of the football and Penn State recovered at the IU 32 yard line. Five plays later the Nittany Lions were back in the end zone, staking claim to a 33-21 lead with 10:25 left to play.
Indiana was unable to get anything going the rest of the way until a last minute score and a successful onside kick made it interesting in the waning seconds.
IU now sits at 4-4 on the season, mired in a three game losing streak.
The game got off to an inauspicious start, as Penn State returned the opening kickoff return 58 yards to the IU 36 yard line. That result was actually an improvement over last year’s opening kickoff return for a touchdown by the Nittany Lions, but certainly not the start IU was looking for. Penn State capped off that drive with a touchdown.
Indiana responded with a 2:45 scoring drive of their own, capped off by a 5-yard Stevie Scott scoring plunge to tie the score at seven apiece.
A quarterback rotation emerged as true freshman quarterback Michael Penix took over for the Hoosiers. After IU stuffed a Penn State fake punt attempt in their own territory, Penix led the Hoosiers on a 42-yard scoring drive capped off by a 30-yard run by fellow true freshman Ronnie Walker.
Hoosier safety Bryant Fitzgerald intercepted Trace McSorley on the ensuing drive, and IU suddenly seemed to have all of the momentum in the game. A quick three and out by IU followed by two Penn State scoring drives, however, gave the Nittany Lions a 17-14 lead late in the 2nd quarter.
Questionable decisions by IU head coach Tom Allen sent the Hoosiers to the locker rooms still behind by three.
First Allen chose to go for it on 4th and 1 at the Penn State 10 rather than tie the game. That attempt failed on a throw from Penix into the end zone. Allen would say after the game that the ball was snapped erroneously on that play. The Hoosier head coach intended to simply try to draw Penn State off sides, but the ball was snapped to a surprised Penix who missed badly on the throw.
The IU defense forced a Penn State punt before the end of the half, but poor time management by IU saw the clock run out on Indiana in field goal range.
- Penix left the game with an apparent knee injury in the second half. He was 9 for 19 passing for 94 yards.
- Ramsey finished the game 25 for 35 passing for 231 yards. He had a touchdown and an interception.
- True freshman running back Stevie Scott had his best game in several weeks, carrying the ball 26 times for 138 yards.
WHAT’S NEXT: Indiana travels to Minnesota for a Friday night contest.
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