Every win counts, but some are harder than others to feel good about.
Indiana overcame a slow start to grind out a 27-11 win over Maryland, but it came with a cost.
Starting quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. left the game in the third quarter with an apparent lower leg injury. Penix limped off the field after a 21 yard run to the Maryland three yard line, and with Indiana hanging on to a delicate 9-3 lead.
The one word within the program this week was to “respond” to the loss to Ohio State last Saturday.
While that response was uninspiring, the Hoosiers did respond to the loss of their quarterback.
“It’s not a one man show,” head coach Tom Allen said of the the team’s strong play after losing Penix. “He’s very talented and very special, but it’s bigger than him, bigger than me, bigger than one person. We’ve got a whole locker room full of guys that play extremely hard.”
With backup Jack Tuttle in for Penix, running back Stevie Scott plunged in for his second touchdown of the day and a 15-3 IU lead.
Tuttle found tight end Peyton Hendershot for a a two-point conversion and a 17-3 IU advantage.
“That’s a big time football player,” Allen said of Tuttle. “Big time arm, can make a lot throws, is a good strong worker, leader, tough guy. Whatever the future holds, you just got to be next man up.”
After a Terrapin punt led to a 7 play, 61 yard Hoosier drive and a Charles Campbell field goal, Indiana’s defense put the game away.
Linebacker Micah McFadden snared Indiana’s third interception of the game on the ensuing drive at the Maryland 39, and the Hoosiers marched the distance as Scott scored a third TD to give IU a 27-3 lead with 8:22 left in the game.
IU (5-1) dominated the second half, outscoring Maryland 20-0 and outgaining the Terrapins 210 to -13 before a late Terrapin scoring drive in the final two minutes.
“Our defense continues to be great on third downs and creating takeaways,” Allen said. “That makes it really hard on the opposing team. It was a great team win for the Hoosiers.”
Indiana led 7-3 at halftime despite being outgained 237-139 in total yards. Penix was just 2-of-15 for 37 yards before the break.
“We were just off on our timing with some of those throws,” Allen said. “Our staff came together and figured it out.”
Interceptions by IU cornerbacks Tiawan Mullen and Jaylin Williams ended Terrapin first half drives to help the Hoosiers take a lead into the locker room despite the offensive struggles. Maryland also missed a field goal on its opening drive of the game.
The defense got things rolling in the second half. A third quarter safety by D.K. Bonhomme started the scoring after the break for IU as he tackled Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa in the end zone after IU failed on a 4th down attempt at the Maryland 5 yard line.
NOTES AND NUMBERS:
Allen referred to Penix’s injury as a “lower leg injury” but did not offer more details. “The bottom line is he’s going to be evaluated, and we’ll know more on Monday,” Allen said after the game. Penix finished 6-of-19 for 84 yards. He led IU on a strong 12 play, 71 yard drive to open the second half. That drive ended on a failed fourth down attempt inside the Maryland 5 yard line, leading to the safety. Indiana took the free kick and drove back down deep into Terrapin territory when Penix was injured.
Freshman running back Tim Baldwin led Indiana with 106 yards on 16 carries (6.6 ypc). IU rushed for 234 yards overall on 48 carries, including 80 for Scott. “We said we were going to address it (the running game), and we did,” Allen said. “We met as a staff and tried some new things and changed up some personnel.” One change was a first half drive that included several wildcat formations that led to the Hoosiers’ lone score before the break.
Scott’s three touchdown game was the first for an IU running back since Jordan Howard in 2015. He now is No. 5 all-time at IU with 30 touchdowns for his career.
Tuttle was 5-for-5 on the day passing for 31 yards. It was his first action since briefly entering the game against Michigan in 2019.
After consecutive 200 yard games, Ty Fryfogle was held to 2 catches for 10 yards. He was one of five Hoosiers with a team leading two catches.
Cam Jones led IU with 6 tackles. McFadden, Jerome Johnson and Jonathan King each had sacks for IU.
After two impressive outings Tagovailoa looked rusty for Maryland, missing several open receivers. He completed just 17-of-36 throws and had the three interceptions. The Terrapins had not played since Nov. 7. Mullen said the Hoosiers were keying on the Maryland quarterback’s first look. “He was a one-read player. Wherever he looked, that was the way he was gonna throw the ball,” Mullen said after the game.
Indiana now has 18 takeaways on the season including 16 interceptions. The Hoosiers had 17 takeaways in the 13 game 2019 season. Williams now has 4 interceptions on the season, Mullen 3, and McFadden 2.
UP NEXT: IU will travel to Wisconsin for a 3:30 ET kickoff next Saturday in Madison.
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