BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana desperately needed someone to make plays in the 4th quarter to land their 3rd Big Ten win over three seasons. Aaron Casey entered the chat.
Thanks to Casey’s nine tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, and forced fumble, many of which came late in the game, the Indiana Hoosiers (3-6, 1-5 B1G) toppled the Wisconsin Badgers (5-4, 3-3 B1G), 20-14. It was the Hoosiers’ first victory since an ugly 4OT victory vs. Akron on Sept. 23.
A sunny 61 degrees and a fairly loud crowd set the tone on Saturday afternoon. The Hoosiers were looking to secure their first B1G victory of the season, as they reach an easier portion of their slate.
Indiana was the first to strike after a 66-yard drive. Brendan Sorsby dove into the endzone on an 8-yard rush to put IU up 7-0, punctuating a nine-play drive.
Indiana stopped Wisconsin’s first drive and took over possession. After driving for five minutes, the Hoosiers set up a 43-yard field goal, which Chris Freeman missed. However, IU was able to shut out the Badgers in the first quarter. Wisconsin ruled out Braelon Allen and Chimere Dike before the game, and while Tanner Mordecai was dressed, he never took a snap.
The Hoosier defense sustained its presence, forcing Wisconsin to give up the ball in three consecutive drives. Indiana’s successes on that side of the ball lit a fire on the sideline, energizing the whole squad.
Freeman was able to hit a 27-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-0 midway through the second quarter. Had Donaven McCulley reeled in a high Sorsby pass in the end zone, the Hoosiers’ lead could have been larger. Wisconsin answered with a 5-play drive that ended, with their biggest play of the game, a 54-yard touchdown pass to WR Bryson Green.
IU took over on their own 29-yard line with five minutes left in the half. McCulley didn’t let the drop faze him. Sorsby found McCulley for an athletic 32-yard catch to put the Hoosiers in scoring position. McCulley then made a jaw-dropping one-handed touchdown catch to put the Hoosiers up 17-7 after two quarters.
The Badgers received the second-half kick-off and drove 75 yards for a touchdown. Indiana committed a few costly penalties during the stretch that extended the possession, including a questionable roughing the passer call on Jacob Mangum-Farrar.
Indiana’s offense remained quiet through the third quarter, punting on their singular drive. This carried into the fourth quarter as the Hoosiers were unable to capitalize on a forced fumble recovery, punting after a 3-and-out. The battle of defenses continued the rest of the way.
Late in the fourth, the Badgers drove down to the Indiana 32-yard line where they set up a 4th-and-2. Wisconsin opted to go for it, rather than kick a game-tying field goal, and was unable to convert. Braedyn Locke airmailed an open Will Pauling with 4:10 left. Locke completed just 21 of his 41 passes on the day for 243 yards, struggling in place of the injured Mordecai.
On the ensuing drive, the Hoosiers picked up three first downs, which in the second half, was a significant accomplishment. IU ran the clock down until one minute was remaining, and Freeman successfully kicked a 50-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-14.
Wisconsin needed a touchdown to win, but Casey made straight three tackles, including a massive 3rd down sack of Locke, to start the drive and keep the clock moving. On the last play, Locke connected with Pauling on a short pass, but Pauling fumbled, clinching the IU win.
Indiana heads to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini next week. Kickoff is slated for Noon ET on BTN. The Hoosiers defeated the Illini last year, 23-20, in the season opener.