Indiana punter James Evans had never played American football prior to the 2021 season. After Saturday night, he is much better acclimated to the game.
Unable to get anything going offensively, IU lost 24-0 to Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday night in University Park, Pa. in front of an announced crowd of 105,951. The Hoosiers were shut out for the first time since a 58-0 Oct. 14, 2000 loss at Michigan.
Indiana had a chance to put points on the board early after falling behind 7-0 when safety Raheem Layne intercepted Penn State’s Sean Clifford in the first quarter. Layne stepped in front of the pass and returned it to the PSU 13 yard line. The Hoosiers got the ball down to the Penn State 4, but were stopped there on a 4th-and-1 attempt. Penn State took the ensuing drive 96 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 second quarter lead.
“Very disappointed. Didn’t capitalize, had a chance after the interception to go score and didn’t get any points there which you can’t do on the road,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said after the game.
Allen was asked specifically why he chose to go for it on fourth down rather than take the early three points.
“More the distance, it was 4th-and-1 inside than 10,” Allen said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t win road games kicking field goals.”
Quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. finally got the offense moving midway through the second quarter when he connected on consecutive passes to Peyton Hendershot for 18 yards and then Miles Marshall for another 34. But on the next play Penix threw an ill-advised sideline pass off his back foot that was intercepted by Joey Porter, Jr. at the Penn State 13 yard line.
Indiana’s defense steadied after allowing the early scores and forced Penn State punts on four straight drives that spanned the second and third quarters. But any final hope for IU to put points on the board ended when kicker Charles Campbell’s late third quarter field goal attempt was blocked with the Hoosiers trailing 21-0.
“I thought the defense battled, and gave us a chance, but they were on the field too much,” Allen said. “But just an extremely disappointing effort by our offense, that just put too much pressure on our defense and got some guys dinged up.”
For his part, Evans punted eight times for 367 yards, well beyond the 264 yards the IU offense amassed on the night.
Penix left the game in a third quarter with a throwing shoulder injury. He finished 10-of-22 passing for 118 yards and the interception and was replaced by Jack Tuttle who was 6-of-11 for 77 yards and he also threw an interception. The Hoosiers ran the ball 24 times for just 69 yards (2.9 yards per carry) on the night. 21 of those IU rushing yards came on the final two plays of the game.
Several other IU players suffered injuries including cornerback and punt returner Reese Taylor, who left the game and did not return. His fellow starting cornerback Tiawan Mullen was unavailable on Saturday due to an injury suffered last week. Safety Raheem Layne and linebacker Micah McFadden also dealt with injuries during the game, although McFadden never missed any action.
“We’ve got a bye week coming up to get ourselves healthy, but more importantly to get in the right mindset to move the ball more effectively on offense,” Allen said.
Indiana fell to 2-3 on the season and 0-2 in the Big Ten. After the bye week they will host Michigan State on Oct. 16.
- Stephen Carr ran 15 times for 50 yards
- Peyton Hendershot led IU in receiving with five receptions for 88 yards. Ty Fryfogle added five receptions for 48 yards. No other receiver had more than one catch.
- Ryder Anderson co-led IU with eight tackles including four solo and one for a loss. Micah McFadden also had eight tackles including three solo and 1.5 for a loss.
- Indiana was just 3-of-14 on third down.
- Along with Mullen, wide receiver Cam Buckley was not available for the game.
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