James shows off power, potential in Purdue win

WEST LAFAYETTE — Ruled down just short of the goal line on a previous series, Sampson James wasn’t going to be denied his second time around.

From three yards out, Indiana’s freshman running back hit his first wave of Boilermaker resistance at the 2 yard line. His legs kept pushing, though, moving a pile of black and gold by centimeters a second.

There was just enough forward momentum that nary a whistle blew, as James slithered through a mosh pit of defenders, extending the football with his left hand across the goal line.

Touchdown.

“I was pretty determined,” James said, recalling his first missed opportunity, which resulted in a QB sneak for Peyton Ramsey on fourth-and-goal. “I didn’t quite get in there. So that second touchdown, I was definitely trying to make sure I got in the end zone. So I had the extra effort.”

James’ powerful runs helped drive the Hoosiers out to a 21-10 halftime lead, more than compensating for the absence of sophomore running back Stevie Scott.

The freshman finished with 118 yards in his first fight for the Old Oaken Bucket, though his day was cut short in the second half by an ankle injury.

“It was an amazing feeling, but first I want to thank my offensive line,” James said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without them, for sure, and I want to thank God for giving me the strength and ability to do what I did today.”

One of the blue-chip prospects of the 2019 recruiting class has had somewhat of a quiet freshman campaign. Behind the workhorse Scott, the Avon product had 132 yards on 48 carries coming into Saturday’s game.

But he got 22 totes versus Purdue, showing off his immense potential and power.

“Just learning all I can,” James said. “Stevie, he’s an amazing back. He tells me everything. Since I’ve been here in January, he’s been helping me.

“But just continue to practice hard. A lot of people can really lose faith and really lose hope of playing, but me, I just kept practicing hard, just kept doing what I was doing in the weight room and everything, and when my opportunity came, I took advantage.”

IU stuck to the run early. Ten of the Hoosiers’ first 12 plays were rushes, including a burst of 30 yards for James on the opening drive.

IU’s coaching staff trusted James, who seems to have put early season issues with ball security behind him.

“Weather was going to be rough, the winds and the rain and all the things that creates,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “Obviously makes it challenging in the throw game, so really proud of our offensive line. It was hard, it was tough but really proud of Sampson. He deserves it.”

For an Indiana native, and a former Ohio State commit, the chance to win games in the IU-Purdue rivalry was one of the reasons James decided to stay home. So to produce in such a meaningful game was a big deal.

But James’ presence in Bloomington is about more than the Old Oaken Bucket.

“Definitely one of the reasons, but just to change the culture around here, just change things up around here,” James said. “We’re 8-4 now, so that’s great. We haven’t been 8-4 in a minute, so me and the guys in my class talked about it after the game. We were talking about this is why we came here, to win big games like this and to advance and get to a great bowl game and looking to win that, for sure.

“I’m just so excited for the future of our program and happy for our win tonight. I love all those coaches, everybody.”

Kicking woes

When Saturday’s game at Ross-Ade Stadium began, Indiana kicker Logan Justus had yet to miss a field goal. By the time the day was done, he had missed three.

So when the Hoosiers had an opportunity to go up 31-23 with a 36-yard field goal, Allen turned to redshirt freshman Charles Campbell to perform the task.

A delay of game negated Campbell’s initial make. But then he hit from 41 yards, as well.

“Bottom line is Logan had a rough day,” Allen said. “Once he missed the third one, I made the decision to go with Charles. Almost did it on the third one but felt like (Justus) could make it and get his confidence back. He was kicking extra points, hitting it pretty solid there.

“Just one of those days. Just got to work through it. But it didn’t happen for him.”

Campbell, who pushed Justus in fall camp, was a great alternative. He was an Army All-American coming out of high school.

“That’s why you recruit. Charles is on this football team, Charles is an excellent kicker, and he made a huge kick,” Allen said. “Logan’s going to be fine. He’ll come back next game in the bowl game and kick for us. Just glad we’ve got guys ready to step up when called upon.”

Peyton’s place in history

For a guy that was the backup quarterback when the season started, redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey sure has found his way deeper into the IU record book.

On Saturday, Ramsey was 23-of-39 for 337 yards, his sixth career 300-yard passing game, while tying his career high with three TD passes. He also ran for 42 yards and two touchdowns, as IU scored more than 30 points for the ninth time this season, tying the program record set in 2015.

The Cincinnati native now has 42 career passing touchdowns, tied with Antwaan Randle El for fourth-most in IU history, and is now the fifth Hoosier with more than 40 passing scores and the first since Nate Sudfeld, who had 61 from 2012-15.

Ramsey moved into fifth all-time at IU with 7,132 total yards, surpassing Steve Bradley (1983-85), and ranks second with 613 career completions, trailing only Bloomington South product Ben Chappell’s 651 (2007-10).

Chappell and Ramsey are now the only quarterbacks in IU history with 600 completions, 7,000 total yards and 40 touchdown passes.
Rare IU air With Saturday’s 44-41 double-overtime win, Indiana secured just the eighth eight-win season in program history and the first in 26 years.

If the Hoosiers win their bowl game, it would be just the third nine-win season, joining 1945 and 1967.

The victory also gave Indiana five Big Ten wins on the season, tied for third-most in program history behind only the six of 1967 and 1987.

The 5-4 conference mark is the first winning record in Big Ten play since 1993.

Sports writer Jeremy Price contributed to this report.

5 comments

  1. Sampson James shown that he has the potential to be a great running back for Indiana and Peyton Ramsey has also shown the ability to be a very good quarterback for Indiana. Peyton Ramsey is a very tough, gritty, hard-nose quarterback and his number truly suggest how determine and tough-minded he is to be a good quarterback. Peyton will be hard to beat out as the starting quarterback next year…Maybe this will give Michael Phenix the opportunity to properly heal and put on some more muscle/weight (get stronger). I will be the first to admit that I did not see the need to give a scholarship to a kicker (Charles Campbell) a year ago, but to see how cool, calm and relaxed he was on that field goal was great to see (Charles future looks very good). As someone said on this blog before some of the young Indiana football players have a very bright future. Is Donavan Hale injury?

    1. 79,
      I agree that PR is a good QB, but keeping him at starter just about guarantees no chance with OSU, UM, & PSU. Not to mention, hadn’t checked the schedule, but if Davis is correct, add UW to that list. Those defenses are too good to take the deep & high velocity quick passes away from you offense. You can get away with PR if the schedule turns out to be as unexpectedly favorable as it did this year, but if you don’t have opponents injuries and dysfunction to aid your cause, not a good scenario.

      Just is case no one is looking, RU has hired Schiano back as HC. Don’t know if he can duplicate what he did before, but if he comes close, RU will no longer be an easy out.

  2. It will be much harder for schools like IU to poach Rutger’s recruits with Schiano back in charge. I know hind-site is 20/20, but Schiano should never have left Rutgers to attempt to coach in the NFL. Unless a coach achieves great success at the collegiate level and really establishes himself as a coaching icon, Schiano’s disciplinary style just does not work with professional athletes. Not to mention telling your players to go full speed when the opponent lines up in the victory formation at the end of a game. He derailed his career very quickly, so it will be interesting to see if he can get it back on track.

    Schiano’s salary raises the bar again for Fred Glass. Hope he gets it right for TA and sends a signal to the college football world that IU is serious about being successful in football.

  3. James did show promise in the Boiler game but it was against one of the worst run defense in the B1G. I hope from this game on James shows he can play that way against the best defense to give IU two power RBs and let Walker be the faster RB to run different plays. Coach DeBoer needs to find ways to use Walker in a better role to help the offense take off even more than it does right now. Walker showed last year he could run with speed and some power when the running game was really going well. Coach DeBoer needs to show next year his offense can create a strong running game to go with a very good passing game.

    The future looks bright for IUFB but the team needs to show in the Bowl game and next season they are an improved team to build on this past season.

  4. ^^^Refreshingly honest from V13. No rose-colored glasses. The quintessential coaching perspective. Knows the dangers of being content with possible fools gold.
    Also knows we’ll need Penix next season (just my hunch) to get anywhere near this record-breaking season again.

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