BLOOMINGTON, IN – The Indiana Hoosiers welcomed the Idaho Vandals to Memorial Stadium for their first home game of the 2021 football season. The stadium was full, the student section was packed to the brim, the lights were bright, and both teams were ready to play some football.
Idaho won the coin toss and elected to receive. So, how would Indiana’s defense respond after a 38-6 defeat to No. 10 Iowa the week prior?
The answer? With energy. Indiana forced a three-and-out on their first defensive drive and the crowd was electric.
Now the questions turned to the offense. What would they do to mix things up? How would they improve their ability to move the ball coming off a game where Michael Penix Jr. threw three interceptions and did not score a touchdown?
How about an 18-play drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by USC transfer Stephen Carr. The drive took over eight minutes off the clock and the Hoosiers were able to show off a little bit of everything.
Penix got things done through the air when needed and the running back group, along with the offensive line, made a statement early in the game. Stephen Carr went on to finish the first half with 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
One thing that made last years Indiana defense so special was their ability to take the ball away. Tonight, preseason All-American Micah McFadden made sure to keep the tradition alive. On Indiana’s second defensive possession, McFadden recorded a forced fumble on a sack that Indiana recovered inside of their own 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Michael Penix Jr. found sophomore receiver Javon Swinton for his first career touchdown to extend IU’s lead to 14 points.
After Indiana’s defense forced another three-and-out, IU’s special teams unit came up with a block punt that was returned for a touchdown. Noah Pierre recorded the block while Javon Swinton picked up not only the ball but his second touchdown of the night.
IU led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
After a second quarter where both teams struggled early to find any success, Penix Jr. found Ty Fryfogle in the endzone from nine yards out to stretch their lead to 28 with just over 3:30 left in the half.
The Hoosiers kept their foot on the gas.
IU’s defense forced Idaho to punt to wide receiver D.J. Matthews Jr. and he did the rest. Breaking tackles, speeding past defenders, and finding his way into the end zone after an 81-yard punt return.
The Hoosiers did give up a last second touchdown in the half but were able to go into the locker rooms with a comfortable 35-7 lead over the Idaho Vandals.
Out of halftime Indiana received the ball and did not seem to have any plans of slowing down. After a 72 yard kickoff return by Jacolby Hewitt, the Hoosiers scored in four plays and was finished off with a Penix one yard QB sneak. IU once again led by 35 points.
Midway through the third Idaho found some success with a mix of quick passes and power runs up the middle. With 9:11 remaining in the third quarter Idaho scored on a 23 yard pass to the back of the end zone capping off an 11 play, 75 yard drive.
At the end of the third quarter, Indiana led Idaho 42-14.
The fourth quarter belonged to Jack Tuttle, who came in to relieve Michael Penix Jr. of quarterback duties. On his second drive, Tuttle found sophomore tight end AJ Barner down the sideline for a 76 yard touchdown.
Indiana would add to their scoring after another blocked punt was picked up inside their own 20 yard line. Davion Ervin-Poindexter finished the drive with a four yard touchdown to give Indiana a 42 point lead.
Indiana held on to their 42 point lead and the Hoosiers were able to capture their first victory of the season in commanding fashion. The Cream and Crimson were led on offense by Stephen Carr who rushed for 118 yards and by Tiawan Mullen on defense who finished with nine tackles (seven of them were solo).
Next, the 1-1 Indiana Hoosiers will play what many believe to be their most important game of the season. The undefeated No. 7 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats will make their way to Bloomington to face off with the Hoosiers. The matchup is set for a noon EST kickoff.