Indiana Hangs on Against Rutgers 24-17, Improves to 4-1

For the fifth game in a row, Indiana allowed its opponent to get out to an early lead on Saturday.  For the fourth time this season, the Hoosiers responded quickly and decisively and appeared to be ready to cruise to a fourth win.

This time the Hoosiers had to hang on to a late Rutgers’ response of their own, due in part to IU turnovers and questionable decision making in the fourth quarter.  Despite the shaky finish, the Hoosiers earned a Big Ten road victory and ran their record to 4-1 for the first time since 2015.

If Rutgers (1-4) had a chance in this game, it was going to be due in part to a fast start against IU after a miserable last three weeks.  The Scarlet Knights did just that, with a 10 play opening drive for an early 7-0 lead.

Give Rutgers credit — after giving up countless big plays this year, they didn’t give the game away in big chunks, but once again, they did indeed give it away.  Slowly and methodically.

The Hoosiers responded to the early deficit with three straight long drives (10, 16 and 10 plays) to run out to a 21-7 second quarter lead.  On their fourth drive, an 11 play variety, Logan Justus kicked through a 44 yard field goal to send IU off to halftime with a comfortable 24-7 lead.

Freshman running back Stevie Scott, a former Rutgers commit, was productive on the afternoon with 58 yards and a touchdown, but also raised some concerns with ball security.  Scott dropped the ball at the goal line in the first half but was ruled down.  In the second half he fumbled on consecutive plays.  The latter fumble was lost to Rutgers and allowed the Scarlet Knights to pull within 10 points in the fourth quarter after a quick four play, 55 yard drive.

Fellow freshman running back Ronnie Walker came in for Scott and had some big runs in the following drive that had Indiana appearing poised to score at least a field goal.  Instead, head coach Tom Allen elected to go for it on 4th and 9 from the Rutgers 18.  An interception in the end zone gave Rutgers more life, with the ball down only 10 with just over seven minutes left in the game.

The Scarlet Knights capped off another drive with a field goal to pull to within 24-17 with just under four minutes remaining.  Suddenly after stopping Rutgers for most of the afternoon, IU couldn’t contain the Scarlet Knights with their defense.  It would be up to Ramsey and the offense to close it out.

They were up to the task.

After three straight Hoosier running plays led to a fourth and one from IU’s own 35, it initially appeared that the Hoosiers had been forced to punt.  Once again Tom Allen was unconventional on fourth down — and this time it paid off.

IU lined up with the intent to draw Rutgers offside, and it worked as motioning tight Peyton Hendershot got the Scarlet Knights to jump.  Ramsey had the good sense to keep running the play, hitting Hendershot for a 25 yard pass.  IU was able to kneel down and run out the clock from there for an uncomfortable win — but a win nonetheless.

Ramsey was the constant on the day.  He finished the game 27 of 40 for 288 yards and a touchdown to go with the interception.  The redshirt sophomore added 51 rushing yards and another touchdown on the ground.

Indiana travels to No. 4 Ohio State next Saturday.

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