Things sure didn’t look promising at the outset. With Maryland marching down the field on two consecutive drives sandwiched around an IU three and out, bowl eligibility looked like a lost cause for Indiana. Much like the Minnesota game two weeks ago, the Hoosiers were on their heels on defense and inept on offense.
While Tom Allen’s defense was bent — it didn’t break in the early going, and those early drives only resulted in a 6-0 Maryland lead. Ultimately, that may have been the key to the game.
Next a combination of what IU has severely lacked on the one hand, and had in abundance on the other combined to give the Hoosiers 21 unanswered points.
Multiple accurate vertical throws by Peyton Ramsey and two takeaways by Allen’s defense flipped the script not just on the game — but potentially on IU’s season.
Three IU scoring drives included 35 and 37 yard deep balls by Ramsey to Ty Fryfogle and Donavan Hale respectively. Two of the drives were started with Maryland turnovers — first an interception by Jaylin Williams, and then a fumble recovery by Jerome Johnson.
From on their heels to up 21-6, things had changed quickly in Bloomington. But this is Indiana football, and feel good stories don’t last long. The Terrapins responded with nine straight points of their own to put the score at 21 to 15 at the half.
The teams traded blows throughout second half. Indiana appeared ready to pull away at one point with a 31-15 lead, but Maryland kept coming back — pulling out to a 32-31 lead in the middle of the 4th quarter.
Perhaps showing that they’ve turned a corner, but certainly showing that they haven’t quit — Indiana responded. First the Hoosiers put together a drive that led to a Logan Justus 44-yard field to regain the lead at 34 to 32. The Hoosier offensive line was key in the drive, with four straight running plays for 36 yards.
But 2:32 remained on the clock, and with the Hoosiers clinging to a two point lead, not a soul in Memorial Stadium was comfortable. Hoosier fans know what comes next.
Then Indiana did something that they have rarely done in similar late game situations — they made the big play to clinch the game. After Maryland advanced the ball to near midfield, Kayton Samuels stripped the ball away from Terrapin quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome. Nile Sykes was there to recover the fumble, and with just 1:26 left on the clock and Maryland down to one timeout, the Hoosiers were able to run out the clock and keep their season alive.
The opportunistic Hoosier defense created a total of four takeaways on the day to just one for Maryland, helping IU to make up for a major deficit in total yards.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Hoosiers snapped their four game losing streak to move to 5-5 on the season. With two games remaining, IU needs to find one win at Michigan or at home against Purdue to get to six wins and become bowl eligible.
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