Dexter Williams gave Hoosier Nation so much hope over the last three weeks as IU’s starting quarterback. He gave IU fans hope today after leading an opening drive touchdown. Then, the knee injury changed everything.
Purdue (8-4, 6-3 B1G) would overtake the Hoosiers (4-8, 2-7 B1G) and retain the Old Oaken Bucket, defeating Indiana, 30-16. For the first time, the Boilers won the Big Ten West and will face Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game next week.
After Purdue connected on an opening drive FG, the Hoosiers found the end zone to take the early lead. Williams flipped it to Jaylin Lucas on the option pitch, and once Lucas was in the open field, the Boilermakers had no shot. Lucas, Indiana’s electrifying all-purpose back, finished the game with 100 rushing yards, a career-high.
Then came the devastating moment that will plague IU fans all offseason. On a pass play, Williams rolled to his left, and all of a sudden, he fell to the ground. It felt like time stopped in the middle of the first down play. We will refrain from showing the video in this article.
Per Indiana University, Williams was taken to a Bloomington hospital for further evaluation. The injury was deemed a right leg injury.
Connor Bazelak entered the scene and fired incomplete to Andison Coby on his first attempt. The normally reliable Charlie Campbell hooked the 44-yard field goal attempt, and the score remained 7-3.
IU’s defense brought the intensity to the contest, with Alfred Bryant and Demarcus Elliott leading the charge. Each defensive lineman recorded a sack of Aidan O’Connell.
Purdue, who averaged 408 yards per game of offense this season, was limited to just 133 in the first half by Tom Allen and Chad Wilt’s defense.
After IU forced a punt with 3:35 to go, the Hoosiers opted to run out the clock after driving from their own 1 out to their own 25-yard line. IU held a 7-3 halftime lead in the Bucket Game.
After the break, Bazelak and the IU offense went through a poorly-timed lull, with consecutive three-and-outs. Meanwhile, Purdue found their stride.
Devin Mockobee, a two-star recruit out of Boonville HS, made multiple catches out of the backfield for moderate gains. Those plays loosened up the IU defense, then O’Connell found his NFL-bound TE Payne Durham for six. It was Durham’s 24th career TD.
After another IU three-and-out, Mockobee would create problems again for the Hoosiers. On 3rd-and-1 from the IU 27, Mockobee slithered through multiple IU defenders for a touchdown that would put Purdue in the driver’s seat up two scores.
While a 10-point deficit was by no means insurmountable, Indiana never genuinely threatened Purdue again. Campbell had another missed field goal, as his attempt from 35 yards was blocked by Kydran Jenkins. This marked consecutive weeks where Campbell had a short field goal blocked.
Alfred Bryant recorded his second sack late in the third quarter, and Bazelak put IU in field goal range once again. This time, Campbell converted, drawing IU to within one score.
Charlie Jones delivered the dagger. Jones, who will certainly receive all-Big Ten recognition at season’s end, crossed the face of Bryson Bonds and ran into open space. O’Connell found him for a 60-yard bomb, and Jones would top 100 yards receiving on the play.
Bazelak and the Hoosiers worked their way into Purdue territory multiple times late in the game, only to have drives fizzle out and result in failed fourth down attempts.
A pick-six by Cory Trice eliminated any chance of a Hoosier miracle. Trailing 24-10, Bazelak targeted Malachi Holt-Bennett, only for Trice to take it away and sprint into the end zone.
On the last play of the game, in garbage time, Bazelak connected with Josh Henderson for a touchdown to formally make the final 30-16. It was Henderson’s 8th TD of the year.
Indiana’s season has concluded at 4-8, and the Hoosiers now look ahead to 2023. The season opener will take place in Bloomington against Ohio State, who will miss the Big Ten title game after Michigan crushed them 45-23 in Columbus on Saturday. The Buckeyes will miss the CFP in all likelihood as well. We’ll keep you updated on any roster and personnel changes on Twitter @IndianaHQ.
Photo by Purdue Football