Scott helps Hoosiers puts away Cavaliers, 20-16

After every big run, every thundering romp through Virginia’s defense, Stevie Scott returned to Indiana’s huddle and barked the same command.

“Feed me,” Scott said. “I want the ball.”

On a rain-soaked night at Memorial Stadium, a night when Indiana required reliability and security from its offense, the true freshman running back gave the Hoosiers everything they needed.

Scott rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown, answering IU’s call for help in its backfield and propelling the Hoosiers to a crucial 20-16 victory over the Cavaliers before a sparse Saturday night crowd in Bloomington.

“He grew up tonight,” quarterback Peyton Ramsey said.

Not only did Scott assert himself in an Indiana backfield eager for a bell cow to emerge, he stamped his name inside the program’s record book. He finished three yards shy of tying Anthony Thompson’s single-game record for most rushing yards by a true freshman. He became the 12th true freshman in IU program history to break the 100-yard mark in a game and also stands as the first Indiana back to rush for 200 yards since Devine Redding did so in the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl.

“I just went with the flow,” said Scott, who is now IU’s top backfield option with Cole Gest (ACL) lost for the season and Morgan Ellison (suspension) gone for an undefined period.

Because of the wet conditions, Indiana’s offense flowed through Scott on Saturday. He dug IU out of an early seven-point deficit with a well-executed — and well-blocked — 40-yard scoring run midway through the first quarter on which he demonstrated advanced poise and feel for how the play developed.

Scott finished with an average carry of 6.6 yards, while posting three runs of at least 10 yards. Two of those went for 40-plus, and the New York native may have had a few more had he been able to break an extra tackle or two in the open field.

Perhaps most importantly, Scott didn’t fumble once in the slick conditions.

“We didn’t think that they would be able to run the football effectively,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

After Gest’s injury early in last week’s season-opening win at Florida International, that was one of the central questions for this Indiana team. Was there enough left in IU’s backfield after the Hoosiers lost their top two options?

Scott answered that with an emphatic yes.

“Stevie Scott just ran with confidence,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He’s a big boy now. He has really good patience. I noticed that in fall camp, knew this kid was going to be special.”

Indiana returns to Memorial Stadium on Saturday at noon against Ball State.

Scott’s first signature performance came on an night when Indiana’s young defense answered its coach’s call to finish.

It was far from a perfect effort from the IU defense, but in tough conditions, against a Power 5 opponent and an elusive quarterback, the Hoosiers got the job done.

Particularly late, when IU appeared to bend — but didn’t break.

With IU clinging to its four-point lead at the end of regulation, Virginia got as close as the IU 27-yard line. The Cavaliers marched 64 yards in 15 plays, killing the final 3:23 off the clock after Indiana’s offense failed to score on its last possession of the night.

At the end, Virginia was awarded an untimed down after IU cornerback Raheem Layne committed a blatant pass interference infraction in the center of the field.

But the Hail Mary heave from UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins deflected out of the end zone, securing the IU victory.

“How about our young defense,” Allen said. “They just kept coming, held them under 300 yards of offense, 16 points. Obviously at the end they made the huge stop to win the game.”

The defense struggled at the start of both halves, beginning the contest by allowing Perkins to lead the Cavaliers on an 11-play, 71-yard scoring drive.

From there, IU locked in.

The Hoosiers answered on their first chance of the night, converting two third-down opportunities to get into Virginia territory before Scott accelerated through a hole for a 40-yard touchdown run that tied the game.

Indiana went ahead moments later when kickoff return man Joe Reed bobbled the ball then had it stripped by IU’s Micah McFadden. Bryant Fitzgerald jumped on it, giving Indiana a fresh field at the UVA 21.

“They were bouncing it to the right and what they were trying to do was set up a wall,” McFadden said. “I just took the wall head-on, and when I broke through, the guy was standing right there. I went for the tackle and my hand landed on the ball and I just ripped it out and saw that Fitz landed on it.”

That play helped the Hoosiers to their second score two plays later, when Ramsey found Donavan Hale in the corner of the end zone on a nine-yard reception.

But instead of going ahead by seven points, Virginia blocked the point after attempt and watched Juan Thornhill return it for two points, making IU’s lead 13-9.

“We had a mistake up front with one of our guys,” Allen said. “He didn’t step down like he was supposed to. … We lost three points in the exchange when we got the block and they returned it for two points.”

Indiana achieved some breathing room to close the half, using some downfield throws from Ramsey to quickly get in the end zone with 96 seconds left in the second quarter. A 33-yard connection between Ramsey and Hale took IU from its 44 to the UVA 23, before Ramsey found Westbrook from 23 yards out for a touchdown that boosted Indiana’s halftime advantage to 20-9.

IU’s defense, which started the contest with an ugly series, struggled to open the second half, too.

It came after another instance of poor special teams play form IU, which had a 41-yard field goal attempt blocked on its first possession of the third quarter.

“The timing was too slow and the kick was low,” Allen said. “So I felt like (the problem) was the snap because of the wet ball and getting it down. It just too long in our timing of it — our processing, we call it — and then the kick was low.”

Perkins engineered Virginia’s second touchdown drive on the ensuing possession, juking and tossing his way through the Hoosier defense. His 20-yard touchdown pass to Chris Sharp cut IU’s lead to 20-16 at the 7:59 mark of the period.

“Knew it was going to be a tough game,” Allen said. “Weather was awful, but our guys just don’t care about that stuff. Can’t control the weather. I was really proud of the way they competed.”

21 comments

  1. It was great to come away with a win while making mistakes that could have cost IU the game. A lot of good happened in the game especially the OL and Scott in the running game. The OL protected Ramsey well and allowed IU to have a passing game on a night of terrible conditions.

    IU needs to find another quality RB to go with Scott with the # of plays IU runs.

  2. Good win and improvements on both sides of the ball. Besides special teams kicking (but bad weather), this team made progress. Now just keep improving because BSU looked good against ND. Just get to 6 wins. Ramsey looked good.

  3. Just get to 6 wins.

    And that is why it’s IU Football. I sure as hell hope that isn't the philosophy from the administration and coaches.

    I sort of wish there would be a lot less celebration after every decent tackle, sack, run(gesturing 'first down' with the hand), etc. Watching a Stanford lineman sack the USC Trojan qb tonight and he simply acted like it was another day at the office. Love to watch teams that calmly make big plays as if they have been there before. I like enthusiasm….but sometimes it just looks so damn manufactured and artificial when it's an always sort of deal. It can look Pee-wee League…and Purdue(ish).

  4. This was a horrible game! IU totally dominated. But really timid play calling stopped our scoring at 20 in the first half. IU has the worst 3rd down defense I have ever seen. No opponent can cover Hale so we do night throw him a pass after he catches one. Peyton is a very average runner so he gets a dozen chances. No one can cover Timian so he only gets a few throws. Whop is good so he gets no plays. Fryfogel is good so we give him only a few opportunities. I U held on to win by 4 when we should have won by 21. We can beat Ball St this way, but that appears to be a ceiling. Open up the offense! Go for scores! Have fun!

    1. OK

      Have you ever played in conditions like today’s game? Personally, I thought the lack of slop play was remarkable.

      Passing touchdowns? Are you kidding me?

      For this game to come off looking as sanitary as it did was frickin’ magic.

      1. Both Hale and Westbrook caught TD passes in the first half. Keep throwing in the second half. The TD’s were there to be had.

    2. IU “did not throw” to Hale, only 5 targets (throws to him for his 4 catches- 56 yards); IU ran Ramsey 9 times for 27 yards- 3/carry; Ramsey was 16/22 with 1 interception and 2TD’s; does anyone else believe that our receivers are the strength of this team? No opponent can cover Hale; Westbrook is a pro prospect; Timian is better than Paige, and he was very good; Fryfogel and Whop are very good; the 2 freshmen TE’s are good; and Taylor is a game breaker! Use them! If Peyton can’t, then play Penix, because he sure can! Switch the kicker to Campbell, his kicks rise faster and higher than Logan’s, the Coach said this when he picked Logan! Be smart and play to score lots of points!

  5. So, I’m gonna be around Corvallis so I thought I’d catch a Beavers game. They play NO ONE. If you don’t appreciate the Hoosiers schedule just look at the Beavers.

    Yeah, I just said that.

  6. Again. Learning curve how good IU will be. How much advantage did weather conditions give Scott or disadvantage of Virginia trying to stop him and offensive line? Peyton Ramsey was the correct choice tonight to play all game. However, how much limitations will be exploited by better teams in good weather? R.T. Plays were in negative. Overhyped, maybe? Play calling for him? Not his kind of weather? IU punter is one of IU’s best weapons. Good win. Weather conditions dictate how game looks regarding both teams strengths. Last couple series Virginia seemed to have some momentum. Questions as to play calls on offense and then defense allows Virginia drive down field. A win is a win. Learning curve; IU learned a little more, both positive and negative this game. N.D. seemed to ho hum Ball State and Ball State was fired up. IU should beat Ball State by 20 but IU better be ready to play.

  7. Virginia return on IU for 2 points after extra point kick is not the first time this has happened. Several years ago it happened to IU. I am not sure if I ever seen it happen to other teams but two times at IU. Rarely do teams get extra points blocked but 3 point swing in a game? IU football; part of its crazy tradition.

  8. A few observations, the first being anytime you come out with a W in the kind of game conditions you had yesterday, be grateful. Have seen extreme weather play havoc with teams many times and many times the better team lost when they would have won in anything but extreme conditions. The second thing is the appearance of a power running game for IU. Saw it developing last week at FIU when IU kept running Scott at the defense in the clock using closing drive of the game. FIU knew what was coming at them, but still couldn’t stop it. That’s a very good sign.

    Here’s a telling statement Mike quoted: ““We didn’t think that they would be able to run the football effectively,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said.”” If I were VA officials, I would be wondering about my coach. That’s two years in a row IU has hit them with something they were unprepared for, last year it was PR, this year the S train. This one they should have seen coming if they had paid attention the end of the FIU game tapes.

    Like last week, the best thing about this game is to not play your best FB and still come out with a win. Coaching staff can fuss all week and the players will accept because they know it too. Added bonus of BSU playing ND so tight. FB team would be oblivious to reality if that didn’t catch their attention and add a sense of urgency in preparations this week.

    Sometimes even with the worst program in college FB history the breaks can fall your way. Law of averages say sooner or later opportunities will present themselves. Hopefully this team can take advantage of them. Should all feel quite thankful to be 2-0 at this point, could be up in PU land. Twitter has been brutal.

  9. I agree that IU has won 2 games without playing their best or up to what should be their potential. So this team has some ceiling to it and ability to improve at several levels because of ability and talent level. Record could be anywhere from 4 or 5 to 7 or 8. I still am not close to knowing this version (2018) football team except I really like the punter’s performance.

  10. Five of the next six games will determine if Hoosier Football is still Finkle hiding as Einhorn. Some of you may need a cold shower cleanse…
    Ball State, MSU, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State….? Pieces of cake for any SEC West team!

    BSU will be interesting….Riley Neal out of Yorktown, Indiana is quite the real deal. “I’m open coach! I’m open!”

  11. Just need to improve each game. Incremental improvement is so important in this league. There are never guaranteed wins when it is IU football.

  12. If the coaches continue to point out the many flaws, the need for significant improvement in some key aspects of the team’s performance, then this will have been a good win. But if the players don’t understand and appreciate that they barely survived, then progress will be hindered. The coaches and the players should feel relieved that they are 2 – 0 and remain very humble. They have a long way to go before they’ll be ready to battle MSU, but they only have two weeks to get there.

    As for the weather, it’s not like it was a mud bowl. Footing didn’t appear to be a problem. I think the worst part was that the ball was heavy and slippery, and the winds were strong in one direction. But I don’t think the weather was an excuse for the deficiencies IU revealed last night. But, it is good to be 2 – 0 and discussing the need to improve. We’ve all discussed IU’s need for improvement in years past when they started 0 – 2. I like this a lot better.

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