WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The skies over West Lafayette may have been gloomy, but it’s all sunshine for Indiana football. Thanks to a balanced offensive attack, timely plays on defense, and a gutsy performance from QB Peyton Ramsey, the Hoosiers (8-4, 5-3 B1G) knocked off the Purdue Boilermakers (4-8, 3-6 B1G), 44-41, in the 95th Old Oaken Bucket game.
As usual, the Bucket game had plenty of twists, turns, and unusual plays. Purdue won the toss, opted to take the football, and drove all the way down to the IU 23. On a 3rd down pass play, DB Jamar Johnson intercepted an underthrown pass by Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell.
The Hoosiers capitalized on the takeaway. On a drive that started at the IU 9, the Hoosiers marched 91 yards on 12 plays to take the early lead. IU OC Kalen DeBoer called a run on the first eight plays, and 11 of the first 12. Back on the field after a one-game absence, WR Whop Philyor caught an 8-yard TD pass from Ramsey. Philyor gave Purdue’s secondary problems all afternoon, racking up 135 yards on seven receptions.
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The opening drive touchdown represented Indiana’s 3rd straight such occurrence. IU has recorded some kind of points on every opening drive since Week 4 at Michigan State.
The star of the first half for Indiana was freshman RB Sampson James. With RB Stevie Scott unavailable, and with the weather posing an added challenge, James stepped in and totaled 15 carries for 89 yards, including an inspiring 3-yard touchdown run. The 4-star recruit, who once committed to Ohio State, is a player to watch for Indiana in the years to come.
After the break, Indiana changed up the game plan and threw it more than ran it. The Hoosiers offensive line, who had conceded one sack before halftime, struggled to give Ramsey time to throw. Purdue sacked Ramsey three times after the break, hit him a few more instances, and pressured him frequently. IU considerably missed LT Matthew Bedford’s absence, who missed the game after picking up an injury last week.
Indiana opened up a 3-score lead in the 3rd quarter, as Ramsey lofted a deep ball to Philyor with 3:30 to go in the period. Philyor has had TDs in only three separate games this season: Connecticut, at MSU (2x), and at Purdue (2x).
Purdue RB Zander Horvath gave Indiana’s run defense fits all afternoon. In a game where O’Connell was inconsistent with his accuracy. Horvath gained a steady few yards every time he touched the ball. His physicality seemed to fire up his teammates as well. Every time he touched the ball, it took multiple Hoosiers to take him down. Horvath ran for a Purdue season-high 166 yards; he found the end zone twice as well.
Indiana kicker Logan Justus, who came in at a perfect 14-for-14 on field goals this season, fell victim to the blustery conditions. Justus missed kicks from 40, 43, and 26 yards, and Allen eventually replaced him with redshirt freshman Charlie Campbell. After a delay of game penalty moved the Hoosiers back, Campbell drained a 41-yarder that gave Indiana an 8-point lead with 4 minutes remaining.
At that point, O’Connell went to his most reliable targets, TE Brycen Hopkins and WR David Bell. Bell, a freshman 4-star WR, who chose to go to Purdue over Indiana, reeled in a 20-yard score with 2:20 remaining. Bell topped 1,000 receiving yards on the season during the game. Fellow freshman Tiawan Mullen guarded him all afternoon, and the two had a competitive back-and-forth affair. Bell ended up with 9 catches, 136 yards, and a the TD, while Mullen had a team-high 8 tackles and 4 PBU.
Hopkins, whom NFL scouts predict will go early in the 2020 NFL Draft, scored the two-point conversion to even things at 31. Hopkins gave Indiana’s linebackers problems all day, as he totaled 8 catches, 142 yards, and two scores.
The Hoosiers and Boilermakers headed to the first Bucket game overtime since 2010. The teams traded touchdowns in the first extra period. Senior WR Nick Westbrook hauled in the score for Indiana, while Hopkins matched for Purdue. In the second overtime, Purdue settled for a 34-yard kick by JD Dellinger, which set the target for the Hoosiers: score a TD, and win the Bucket.
It may not have been the winning play, but the most important completion came on 3rd & 10 from the Purdue 15. Ramsey found his reliable TE Peyton Hendershot over the middle, and Hendershot drove the ball down to the one-yard line.
Indiana immediately went without a huddle, sprinted to the line, and Ramsey used the all-too-useful QB sneak to cross the goal line. It was his 5th TD of the day, and his 5th sneak for a TD in the last three games. Ramsey finished with 379 yards and 5 TD on the afternoon.
Indiana won its eighth game for the first time since 1993 and won the Bucket for the first time since 2016.
Next Up for Indiana
Indiana awaits the bowl selection show, which takes place on December 8. Stay tuned for where IU will play their first postseason game since 2016. The Hoosiers have not won a bowl game since the 1991 Copper Bowl.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ