No. 9 Indiana put up a fight, but 28 unanswered points by the Buckeyes were too much to overcome.
IU rallied from a 35-7 deficit and twice had the ball with a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter after its defense stopped Ohio State.
But despite a big offensive day, Indiana struggled to move the ball on those two late drives and came up short, 42-35 in Columbus.
Head coach Tom Allen was unhappy with the outcome, but pleased that his team didn’t quit.
“This team has a lot of fight. They have a lot of character,” Allen said after the game. “But still very disappointed in the outcome. We didn’t play good enough.
“But when you’re down 35-7 in this place, tremendous character, grit and toughness to come back. It just shows so much about the heart of these kids, the heart of this program, and what we’re building.”
Indiana (4-1) seemed slow to adapt to the Buckeyes’ size and speed early.
“Their size and speed and playmakers, were better than the other four teams we played,” Allen said.
Ohio State scored 21 straight to close the first half, including a 9-yard TD run by Justin Fields in the final seconds before the break to take a 28-7 halftime lead. That Ohio State drive was immediately preceded by an Indiana drive the ended with a David Ellis fumble inside the Ohio State 10 yard line.
It wasn’t Indiana’s only major mistake inside the Buckeye 20 yard line. With the Hoosiers down 35-14 in the third quarter, Jamar Johnson pulled in his second interception of the game and returned it to the Buckeye 16 where he fumbled and the ball was recovered by Ohio State.
“We had enough mistakes on both sides that gives a team like this enough to be the difference in the end,” Allen said.
Ellis was involved in a second sequence that resulted in another quick reversal of fortunes.
With Indiana trailing 35-21 and back on the attack late in the third quarter, Ellis dropped a deep pass the would have put the Hoosiers in Buckeye territory. Quarterback Michael Penix threw an interception on the ensuing play that was returned 36 yards by Shaun Wade for a touchdown and a 42-21 OSU lead with :49 left in the third quarter.
But almost miraculously, Penix and the Hoosiers kept coming at the No. 3 Buckeyes.
First Penix found Ellis for a 16 yard touchdown pass with 12:26 left in the fourth quarter. After an Ohio State punt, Penix hit Ty Fryfogle for a 56 yard scoring strike to pull IU to within 42-35 with 10:26 remaining in the game.
Penix attempted 51 passes and threw for 491 yards and 5 touchdowns as Indiana went almost exclusively to the passing game in the second half.
“Michael was a special player, but we’ve got to get better up front,” Allen said in reference to the lack of a running game throughout the day.
Fryfogle had 218 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. It was his second straight game with at least 200 yards. But he wasn’t in the mood to talk about individual accomplishments after the loss.
“None of the stats matter when you don’t win, Fryfogle said.
“We’ve got to execute all four quarters and we didn’t do that today.”
Despite all the big numbers put up by the IU offense on the day, they couldn’t deliver late with the game on the line.
The Hoosier defense held OSU scoreless on three straight drives to close the game including a fourth down stop at their own 7 yard line to end a 68 yard Buckeye drive with 4:39 left.
But Indiana’s offense couldn’t come up with the tying score. The Hoosiers ran 11 plays for just 18 yards on its last two drives of the game.
NUMBERS AND NOTES:
Penix finished 5 yards short of the program’s all-time single game passing mark. Both the yards and Penix’s 5 touchdown passes were career bests for the redshirt sophomore. 5 touchdown passes ties several players for second most all-time in program history for a game.
Fryfogle had the 5th best receiving yards day in IU history and now has 25 catches, 560 yards and 6 TDs over his last 3 games.
Indiana’s running backs carried 11 times for just 18 yards.
The Hoosiers generated 5 sacks and 3 interceptions on the day, but IU turned it over 4 times.
Fields (18-of-30) had more incompletions in the game than he had through three games to start the season. The interceptions were his first of the season. Tackle Jerome Johnson added the third pick for the Hoosiers.
Indiana will host Maryland next weekend. The game time and television designation have not been released. Stay tuned to The Daily Hoosier for details.
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