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Since I knew I would be writing a story for Monday’s Tribune-Star (pesky Saturday night deadlines), plus the fact I didn’t get to bed until 3 a.m. on Sunday (pesky Saturday night late kickoffs), I waited until this morning to grab links to everything I wrote from Saturday’s Ball State-Indiana game.
So here’s the aforementioned story for Terre Haute. Here’s my first game story and notebook for the Post-Tribune, and after the jump is the write-thru I did for the P-T that didn’t seem to make it onto the web after all (pesky procrastinating sportswriter).
By Andy Proffet
BLOOMINGTON — The parking lots were emptying and the streets around Memorial Stadium were in gridlock.
With visiting Ball State comfortably ahead, it seemed reasonable for fans to try to make their way home, another Indiana loss all but ensured.
Those who left missed two memorable comebacks.
With Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman sidelined because of a hip pointer, freshman Nate Sudfeld was left to run the offense in the fourth quarter. A 70-yard touchdown pass to Cody Latimer had brought the Hoosiers within six points with just over 4 minutes to play.
Then the Indiana defense forced Ball State to go three-and-out. Sudfeld stayed composed, drawing consecutive pass interference penalties and later, completing a 17-yard pass to Kofi Hughes on fourth-and-7.
A third pass interference penalty on the drive, this one in the end zone, gave the Hoosiers (2-1) first-and-goal at the 2. Sudfeld threw to Shane Wynn for the touchdown, and Mitch Ewald’s extra-point put IU ahead 39-38.
But there was still 53 seconds left for the Cardinals (2-1).
“I knew Ball State was a good team, I knew it was never over,” Sudfeld said.
Ball State had entered the game as the eighth-best rushing team in the nation, but now the game was in the hands of Cardinals quarterback Keith Wenning.
Wenning, who finished 26-of-44 for 222 yards, three TDs and no INTs, completed 4-of-6 passes on the final drive. None were bigger than an 18-yard sideline completion to Willie Snead that put the ball at the Indiana 25 with one second on the clock. (WRITER’S NOTE: My former boss, John Harmon, would have had a fit over my use of ‘Wenning’ as the last word in the previous paragraph and repeating it as the first word in the next paragraph. In my defense, it was after 1 a.m. when I was writing this story and I just wanted some sleep. Forgive me …)
Steven Schott booted the 42-yard field goal. Ball State 41, Indiana 39.
“It was right there in our hands,” Latimer said. “We should have had it.”
Instead, it belonged to Ball State, who defeated Indiana for the second straight year and third time overall in the series which ends this season.
Not only do the Hoosiers not get a chance to avenge this loss next season, they have to wait an extra week before they take the field again. Indiana is off next weekend before opening Big Ten play at Northwestern.
The Hoosiers know they’ve got problems to fix.
Indiana was penalized 12 times for 127 yards. Ball State had 206 yards rushing, and the Hoosiers failed to sack Wenning or force a turnover.
And the Indiana offense that had 343 yards in the first half went cold in the third quarter: 10 plays, 32 yards, one first down.
“As coaches, we didn’t do a good job. We didn’t do a good job at halftime making adjustments,” Wilson said. “We just kind of laid an egg and that is on me.
“We just couldn’t get in rhythm (in the third quarter),” Wilson said. “I know we tried to throw a couple short passes early and just didn’t connect. … We just didn’t do a good job with execution or play selection.”
Indiana led 25-24 at halftime, but while the Hoosiers’ offense stalled in the third quarter, the Cardinals were finding their rhythm. After being forced to punt on the first drive of the second half, Ball State scored touchdowns on its next two drives to take a 38-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
Then the Hoosiers finally came alive again.
“We sped it back up again, started running our up-tempo offense again (in the fourth quarter),” Latimer said. “We just came out cold (in the third quarter), we slowed it down. We didn’t pick it back up until late.”
But the Hoosiers still left too much time for the Cardinals
“I don’t think our defense was ready (on that last drive),” Indiana cornerback Greg Heban said. “I felt like we had the plays called and they schemed us well on the play calls.”
Wilson expects Coffman — the fifth different starting quarterback in his 15-game IU coaching career — to remain the starter. Coffman was 24-of-35 for 251 yards and two TDs in his first start; Sudfeld finished 13-of-20 for 172 yards and two scores.
Stephen Houston had the fourth 100-yard rushing game of his IU career, finishing with 102 yards and a TD on 12 carries. And Latimer finished with 115 yards on four receptions.