Hoosiers blast Rutgers, 35-0

In a week where Reakwon Jones’ mind drifted to a place hundreds of miles away, a football bouncing at the 17 yard line gave Indiana’s senior linebacker a singular focus.

“I gotta go get it, I gotta score this,” Jones said. “I gotta go get that ball.”

A year ago, Jones was balancing football with family turmoil after Hurricane Michael ripped through his hometown of Lynn Haven, Fla. In the days leading up to Saturday’s 35-0 win over Rutgers, posts on social media were reminding Jones of the chaos, of his family’s house being destroyed. His sister’s birthday — the day after the 2018 storm — was this past Friday.

But less than 10 seconds into a blowout win, a sack and a forced fumble by sophomore defensive tackle Demarcus Elliott laid a gift at Jones’ feet. The fifth-year senior scooped it up, made a short sprint, and capitalized.

“I was emotional after that, especially it being my first career college touchdown, and just thinking back to a few days ago last year, I didn’t have a home back home, and all my stuff was destroyed,” Jones said. “It definitely made me feel a little emotional there. But I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

It was a poignant moment within an important win for the Hoosiers.

That sack, fumble, and touchdown got IU (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) off to a fast start in its first conference win. It was a rollercoaster, as the Hoosiers scored their 21 first-half points in the first 7 minutes of the game. A couple of third-quarter touchdown drives put the Scarlet Knights (1-5, 0-4) away for good.

But despite a second-quarter lull, the Hoosiers more than handled a struggling adversary. IU’s defense allowed just 75 yards, including just 1 yard through the air. The Hoosiers also collected six sacks and didn’t allow Rutgers to convert a third down on 11 attempts.

Offensively, the Hoosiers cruised to 557 yards, including a 10-catch, 182-yard effort from junior receiver Whop Philyor and a 12-carry, 164-yard rushing day from sophomore Stevie Scott. Redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr., who was pulled before the fourth quarter, finished 20-of-29 passing for 282 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.

The Jones fumble recovery with 14:50 left was the quickest score in the 60-season history of Memorial Stadium.

“Proud of our team, Big Ten win, much needed, took care of business,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “Thought it was very important for us to start fast. We obviously did.”

Allen’s voice was somewhat hoarse after the victory because he spent a good chunk of the second quarter raising his voice.

IU was just a tad off for those 15 minutes. Penix was pressured into his first interception since the opener. On another possession, he missed Philyor over the middle for what could have been a touchdown, eventually shorting it to the junior for a 31-yard gain. The catch required a replay review to confirm the ball didn’t graze the turf.

IU went 94 yards on that drive, largely thanks to another 54-yard reception by Philyor. But that series stalled on a no-gainer by Ronnie Walker on fourth-and-1.

“It was 21-0 before you could blink, and I think you’ve got to teach them how to keep playing,” Allen said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. I thought there was some good silent energy, even when there was a lull after we got ahead. But to keep the pedal down is hard to do.”

IU found the explosive plays it needed in the third quarter, mostly via the ground game. Scott, who logged his first 100-yard effort of the season, busted off a season-long, 57-yard gain versus the conference’s worst rush defense. That set up a 10-yard touchdown from Penix to Ty Fryfogle to make it 28-0.

After a Rutgers three-and-out, a 31-yard run by Scott keyed another touchdown drive to give the Hoosiers a five-touchdown lead with 4:02 left in the third quarter.

“I think there were some lulls, and we just tried to fight through them, teaching our young guys to fight and finish,” Allen said.

Needing only two more wins to clinch a bowl berth, the Hoosiers will now look to close in on their postseason goals in road contests at Maryland and Nebraska.

Jones has one personal achievement crossed off: his first touchdown since high school.

The last one was thrilling, too. In 2014, Jones was on the offensive side of the ball for Mosley High, catching a tipped pass with time expiring to win a district contest.

It was dubbed “The Mosley Miracle.”

“Four zeroes on the clock,” Jones said. “It was a blessing.”

Saturday’s touchdown, coming at the very beginning of a game, was also well-timed.

“It set the tone of ‘This is what we’re going to do today. This is what we’re about today,'” Jones said. “This is what we want to be about for the rest of the season.”

34 comments

  1. I U can’t afford a stall out in the offense like what occurred in the second quarter, very poor execution by the offense, I U should have scored 35 points in the first half. The bettor that supposedly bet $196,000 on I U to cover the 27 point spread was sweating this game out until the end. The defense shouldn’t say much about stopping the worst team in the Big Ten with no offense, a I U turnover game Rutgers their best field position of the day. Attendance for the I U homecoming game was just above 37,000 fans, this season hasn’t had a game to hit 50,000 attendance, so much for the increased revenue from tickets sales. Maryland our next opponent was blown out at Purdue today.

    1. Man, you make it sound like we lost.

      Just a very few years ago Rutgers beat IU 2 years straight. In 2015 the Hoosier got 55 points pasted on them by the Scarlett Knights. Times have changed.

      At least IU is at the point where they can make mistakes and still blowout a bad team. They are dancing in the streets in West Laffy after beating a bad team.

  2. Glad this win was a shutout and that our running game was effective. Against a team as pathetic as Rutgers, anything less than a shutout would have been a disappointment (all Hoosier fans can empathize with what Rutgers is going through right now. We’ve been where they’re at). But I doubt this victory helps IU prepare for the tougher competition to come. I worry that such an easy victory will give this young team a false sense of confidence. I think Ball State and Eastern Illinois could have beaten Rutgers today.

    Not sure what to make of Purdue’s demolition of Maryland. Either Purdue has improved a lot, or Maryland is sliding downhill fast. But beating both of those teams will be essential for the outcome of IU’s season. Michigan just looks vulnerable, in spite of today’s margin of victory over IL. That IL QB looked like a third string High School QB. Too bad they’re not on the schedule this season.

    1. Maryland got some attention because they beat a (mistakenly) ranked Syracuse team at the beginning of the season.

      On the year Syracuse has beaten only Liberty, Western Michigan, and Holy Cross. They were never a particularly good team.

      I think Maryland is playing at pretty much the same level they have all year. They have only beaten Howard, a Syracuse team we now know isn’t very good, and Rutgers. Purdue might be playing a little better but, much like Indiana’s game today, it is hard to tell against this week’s opponent.

      We will see next week.

  3. There are some good things to come out of this game that the Rutgers game didn’t really offer. Rutgers looked very poor but was that due to IU’s defense playing much better or Rutger’s poor offense. I will point out against Maryland Rutgers passed for over 120 yds but only got 1 yd today against the Hoosiers. It was good to see Stevie Scott go for more than 160 yds despite having only 12 carries. Penix was well protected and he completed 69% of his passes. Remember the 2nd half protection and runs came with LittleJohn on the sidelines. Whop had a career day today with 182 yds on 10 catches.

    It wasn’t a perfect game but IU had a good game over all; often you play someone that isn’t very good it creates problems for you.

  4. Pathetic attendance for a homecoming game, even for IU fans. Conservatively assuming a spend of $30 per person in attendance, IU failed to capture about $450,000 in revenue today relative to a capacity crowd. I know Rutgers was not an exciting opponent, but only getting 37,000 people into Memorial Stadium for a homecoming game is just pathetic. Time for Glass to start getting creative (I doubt he has a creative fiber in his body) and find ways to make football weekends more appealing to alumni, students and the general populace of central and southern Indiana. 37,000 is embarrassing.

    Did Tuttle play today? If not, I think not playing him today was a mistake. Does Tuttle have a red-shirt year to save? I think Tuttle’s development is being mis-managed and it implies that TA is making some huge assumptions about how long Tuttle will be willing to stay in Bloomington awaiting his chance to become the starter. Something about this situation just doesn’t add up, and it could turn out to bite TA in the backside if both PR and Tuttle choose to transfer.

    Is IU targeting QBs for next year’s recruiting class?

  5. IU has offered Donevan McCulley for 2021 Indianapolis.
    Defense played well but Obvious that Rutgers is that bad. Purdue just beat Maryland who beat Rutgers 48 to 7.
    I think if IU plays reasonably well and doesn’t self destruct IU beats Maryland.
    I like IU chances against Michigan, Northwestern, and Nebraska. However, I still see Purdue as a slight favorite in Bucket game without Moore.

  6. Yeah. Can’t take too much from this win other than it’s one W closer to bowl eligibility. There was no alternative. Losing clearly would have been catastrophic. Agree it definitely should have been a larger margin of victory. Penix had some very good plays but then periods of bad play. Hope the right arm is not bothering him too much. Looked like he tweaked it at one point. On to Maryland, another must win game.

  7. IU already have a commitment from a QB for the 2020 class and I don’t expect any current QBs to leave [I could be surprised by their decision though]. PO I agree Tuttle isn’t being handled very well since he isn’t getting any quality playing time.

    t, I am with you thinking IU could beat NW, Neb. and Michigan if they play well and beat MD. I need to see PSU play tonight as they haven’t really played a good team yet. PU will be a tough game because it is up there but if IU goes into the game sitting at 8-3 or 9-2 the team will have developed to the point PU will just be a challenge to be not a team IU has to play above their level to win.

    The game wasn’t satisfying when looking at the 2nd quarter but it was good to see IU come out in the second half and take it to Rutgers. Remember IU not putting any points on the board coming out in the second half last year, this year adjustments are being made to have the offense score in the second half.

    1. Not sure if you’ve ever been around any coaches, but they don’t look at it that far ahead. It’s all about next week from their perspective, especially with such a young team. As for Tuttle and your comments about misuse, the comments I’ve heard since early August when I’ve asked about him are that he’s not ready and that his lay off from playing has been a big set back. His practice snaps with the 1’s and 2’s is very limited because the other guys are well ahead of him and need the work, so playing him for extended minutes in a live game hasn’t been an option.

      1. BearDown, if you were talking to me I was a HS coach that won 2 state championships and a runner-up team; fans are different so we can look ahead.

          1. Dekalb as the DC
            state championship 1986
            Wayne HS, Ft Wayne as HC
            runner-up in 1992 first time the school made it to state
            State Champion in 1995

            All were 4 A titles

      2. When you are up 35-0 at the start of the 4th quarter, then you can play both the #2 and 3 QB. Especially since Peyton has lots of experience. Allen is way too conservative. IU is pulling back on playing true freshmen while Purdue is ramping up playing true freshmen. They will be good for the Bucket Game.

  8. Perspective: Wisconsin 38 MSU 0
    IU success depends upon solid steady improvement throughout year and remain healthy.

  9. The good news is that as a young team, IU is likely to improve at a much faster rate than teams with a more mature roster, and that is encouraging. But the coaching staff much continue to be tough on these young guys in practice, and not let them think that today’s win was anything special. TA and staff need to grind the players about the negatives (hard to do in a game like today’s win) that will show up in the game tapes and continue to work on eliminating the mistakes. If we go to Maryland and play like we did against MSU, but without all the stupid mistakes and penalties we made in that game, then I think IU can get its fifth win of the season.

  10. v13, are you referring to Dexter Williams, the QB from Georgia? I assumed that at 6’1″, 190 lbs. he’s being recruited to play something other than QB, like DB. He’s listed as a dual-threat QB, and from the little I’ve seen of him on video, he certainly runs very well. Not sure about his arm talent, though.

    1. PO, I am talking about Williams and IU is recruiting him as a QB. He has a big arm to go with having very good feet. I have no doubt if things work out against him at QB the coaches will get him on the field at some position. I have no idea what position he will end up playing but I know IU recruited him as a QB.

  11. Po- how many great, not just good QB’s are playing now at 6’1 or less: Breeze, Wilson, mayfield, Murray, the list goes on. The kid has played outstanding in some big all star games. You have never seen him live! Your opinion is weak. Usually you are better than taking uninformed shots at good recruits.

  12. Not sure what to make of the west after Wisconsin. Is Minnesota good or is Nebraska not so good?

    Is Northwestern worth a damn? Is Illinois that close to Michigan? Is Michigan really a contender?

    I think this is going to be an interesting second half.

    1. Right, I was thinking to myself it’s much like drawing #’s from a hat. Every weekend is full of unknowns.

      1. Brother Chet and HC, yeah, all the unknowns are what’s making this a really fun season. Minnie is 6-0 but unranked ’cause the schedule has been obviously weak, but 6-0 is still 6-0.

        Buck up, Bear Down! IU is 7-5 all time in Lincoln! 9-8-3 v. Neb. over time. GO HOOSIERS AND SCHEDULE NOTRE DAME NOW!

    2. Nebraska without Adrian Martinez is very limited offensively, and they’ve not been able to establish any sort of Blackshirt era defense since Frost arrived. They’re now suffering under the weight of outsized expectations, with more disappointment to come. Not sure IU can win in front of 90,000+ in Lincoln, but they probably won’t get a better chance than this year.

  13. Squandered opportunities in red zone need to be addressed. OC insists on passing in running situations. Secondly, team looks confused the closer to the end zone they get. If DeBoer is ‘afraid’ to run it in (twice) inside the ten vs Rutgers then what can be expected in the next 6 games? Loved the defense. Best player on field, Rutgers punter. Unreal. Sidenote: Will someone on national TV please acknowledge that Clemson might not be a top 10 team, let alone #2. Ryan Leaf on ESPN said they’re #1. That logic gave the Colts Peyton Manning.

    1. Decision making has never been Ryan Leaf’s forte. I’m pretty sure he is still on probation following early release from prison.

      I believe he had the worst quarterback stat line I have ever seen in his 3rd professional game. He was 1 for 15 with two interceptions and FOUR fumbles.

  14. BP, you’re way out of bounds. My comment above contains absolutely no criticism of Williams. In fact, I complimented his running ability. You jumped to absolutely the wrong conclusion. How do you interpret something so totally wrong?

    I have no problem with a 6’1″ QB, and I absolutely love dual threat QBs, as I’ve written many times on this site. I just haven’t seen Williams throw a pass. IU has recruited two players in the last two classes that were very good HS QBs, but they won’t be playing QB for IU. And if Penix stays healthy, neither is anyone else for the next three seasons.

    1. Po- sorry for my interpretation. I have read some about Williams and he seems to be a real leader as well as a gifted athlete. You always need excellent #2 and 3 QB’s. We all know that injuries happen, especially to QB’s!

  15. And Juan Harris has left the IU FB program again, this time saying that he’s done with football. He appears to be a confused young man right now, but I wish him well and hope he finds peace.

  16. Also, the announcers got it wrong when Whop “signaled” then fielded the ball and “ran” into the end zone. The rule was applied and it was a fair catch at the two-yard line (or whatever), but the call did not (as the announcers stated) avoid a safety. The rule is that where the momentum of a player fielding a kicked ball carries him into the end zone, that’s a touchback. So the call actually cost IU twenty-something yards.

    This is not to imply that Whop did the wrong thing; he made split-second decision to try get control of the ball safely.

  17. Oops. Correction. In the above situation, had Whop not signaled, it would not have been a touchback, but not a safety, either. The ball would be spotted where Whop gained control:

    “It is not a safety if a player between his five-yard line and his goal line:
    (a) intercepts a pass or fumble; or recovers an opponent’s fumble or
    backward pass; or catches or recovers a kick; and
    (b) his original momentum carries him into his own end zone; and
    (c) the ball remains behind his goal line and is declared dead in his team’s
    possession there. This includes a fumble that goes from the end zone
    into the field of play and out of bounds (Rule 7-2-4-b-1).
    If conditions (a)-(c) are satisfied above, the ball belongs to this player’s
    team at the spot where he gained possession.” Rule 8-5-1-a-(exception).

    As my mother used to say, “When in doubt, look it up.”

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