Hoosiers pull out 34-28 win at Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — It took all of Indiana’s parts to avoid the ills of seasons past and put away a pesky Maryland squad in the final moments of Saturday’s 34-28 win.

Senior receiver Nick Westbrook needed to lay out in one corner of the end zone late in the second quarter, nabbing a touchdown with the tips of his fingers and giving IU (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) a boost going into the half. As he did.

Sophomore Stevie Scott and the running game had to get going in the second half. And it did.

And when the Terrapins made late threats to send the Hoosiers to disappointment, safety Juwan Burgess had to produce a fumble to punch one hole in the Terrapins’ balloon of hope, and Reese Taylor needed to grab an interception to seal it, pushing the rest of the air out of Maryland Stadium. And they did.

But the efforts of Westbrook, Scott, and the offensive line, and Burgess and Taylor and the defense, none of it would have led to the jubilation of the Hoosiers’ locker room postgame — the excited howls of a football team just one win away from a bowl — if not for one unexpected link in the chain playing his part.

And Peyton Ramsey’s part may be the toughest of them all.

“You prepare every single week like you are going to be the guy, and then you never know,” said the Hoosiers’ backup quarterback, who had to sub in for an injured Michael Penix Jr. and throw for 193 yards, including that 26-yard touchdown to Westbrook right before the half.

“You never know when your number is going to be called. Sure, it’s been hard, but there are a lot of really, really good guys in that locker room who I’ll fight for every single day.”

The health of Penix is once again a concern for a program that has benefited immensely from his strong left arm, when available. Having already missed two games this season with an undisclosed ailment, IU coach Tom Allen wouldn’t go into detail about what caused the redshirt freshman to leave the game early in the second quarter, only to say he doesn’t think it will be a long-term injury.

But in the short-term, the heroics of Ramsey — a player Allen moved to the bench when he opted for Penix in the preseason — were something to behold. Because the same qualities that allow Ramsey to come off the bench and lead a team to victory are the very ones that could make it even harder for him to live with his situation.

He studies the offensive plan, ready to execute at his highest level, because, if his number were called and he wasn’t prepared, he could fail his teammates. But every week, Ramsey has given that effort, and when all goes as planned, he’s reminded of his place. He’s not the starter.

But Penix came off the field hobbled after a scramble to end the first quarter. He came out for one more drive, ending with a Peyton Hendershot bobble and an interception. After that, it was Ramsey’s team to lead.

He guided the Hoosiers on an eight-play, 63-yard drive to give IU a 24-21 edge going into the locker room. Ramsey ended up completing 20-of-27 passing, not allowing himself to be the reason the Hoosiers came up short.

“He prepared this week to be the starter, even though he might not even play a snap. That’s hard to do,” Allen said. “That takes a lot of discipline. It takes a lot of maturity. It takes a special person.

“Guys want things to go their way and when they don’t, they react a certain way. Even last night, I gave our guys a challenge, and that guy was so locked in to every word I said, and he may not have even played a snap today.”

Of course, Ramsey had help. An offensive line that was missing senior center Hunter Littlejohn found a groove late in the third quarter, opening up lanes for Scott to pop off runs of 27 and 10 yards. That set up Scott’s nine-yard touchdown with 2:32 left to build a 31-21 advantage.

Scott went into the half with 13 yards on seven carries but finished with 108 yards and two touchdowns on 18 totes.

Maryland (3-4, 1-3) wouldn’t surrender after the Hoosiers built a 10-point lead. Receiver Dontay Demus, who had already burned the Hoosiers on a first-half touchdown drive, hauled in a 21-yard reception on a third-and-17 to give the Terrapins life late in the third quarter. That spawned a 52-yard catch and run by tight end Tyler Mabry to the Hoosiers’ 1.

Javon Leake’s 1-yard touchdown run cut IU’s lead back to 31-28, but that’s when the Hoosier defense found its footing.

With under four minutes to go, the Terrapins would have the ball for only one play. Redshirt junior husky Marcelino Ball strongly challenged a Maryland receiver blocking on a swing to Leake, and that’s when Burgess flew in to knock the ball from Leake’s hands.

“Lino came in, took on one of their receivers, and I just scraped over,” Burgess said. “I saw how he was carrying the ball, too, so I was just like ‘Go for the ball.’”

That turnover set up a 34-yard field goal for Logan Justus, his second of the day. It also made it so the Terrapins would have to score a touchdown to tie or take the lead.

IU’s defense wouldn’t allow either of those things to happen, even after Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome led his team down to the Indiana 42. Then Taylor did his part.

“Defense wins championships,” Taylor said. “We all wanted it. We all had to step up. We had to do what we do.”

Taylor’s interception on a first-and-10 throw by Pigrome launched the Hoosiers into a celebration. In the locker room, it only continued.

“It was like we all came from the same mother. We’re all brothers in there,” Taylor said. “It’s never arguing, it’s never going back and forth. We always come together and make sure we pick each other up, make sure we are always good.

“Everybody’s hugging, jumping around, laughing. It’s like a big party.”

After the game, Ramsey’s eyes were glistening.

This was an emotional experience for the Hoosiers’ backup quarterback, who saw his daily preparation contribute to a meaningful win.

One more victory, and the Hoosiers are bowling.

“We are one win away with, what, five games to play, and I think that’s something that’s really exciting. That’s really awesome for us,” Ramsey said. “Just worrying about getting one more every single week, not looking ahead to anybody, and just getting one more.

“I’m really excited for the direction we are headed.”

57 comments

  1. A sloppy, messy, ugly win, but a win. Not easy to do on the road. First you learn how to win ugly, then you learn how to win. Today was a big step in IU’s evolution under TA.

    Congrats to the defense for their two 4th quarter take-aways and for saving DeBoer’s butt. His calls in those last three offensive series were horrific; just absolutely terrible.

    I lost count of the number of penalties IU committed. I think it was 12. Have to clean those up if we want to win our sixth.

  2. Have to give great credit to PR. That run he made on 3rd down showed real courage and toughness. He took two big hits and still got the first down.

  3. Big win! Credit where due. Same time, never should have been that tight. O has to cash in on opportunities.

  4. IU pulls out win #5 of this year. It feels so much better heading to Nebraska 5-2 fighting to win #6. The defense played well considering the speed they faced from MD’s offense. They also came up with two big plays to hold on to the win. Coach Shelby has to realize Layne and Brown can’t cover man to man so let Mullen, Williams, and Taylor learn as they play. Every year Layne and Brown get beat over and over and it is time to go with athletes that can make plays while covering WRs.

    The offensive tone changed when Penix went out. Peyton was able to put enough plays together to push IU to the win. I wonder how much of the play calling at the end had to do with how Peyton was feeling at that point.

    It is nice to look at the mistakes after a win because there were more good plays for IU than negative plays. After the MSU game maybe IU is learning how to win a game at the end instead of letting another slip away.

    1. Yes they did.

      Pretty sure the spread would have tilted hard the other way if they had known Penix would play one quarter.

      They did okay.

  5. DeBoer called a good game through three and a half quarters. In the fourth quarter PR had completed 12 consecutive passes. He was doing fine. Then DeBoer started getting conservative and called only one pass play during the last three series. Maryland knew what IU was going to try to run clock and they loaded the box to stop the run. I expect more imagination and aggressive play calling from our highly paid OC in hose circumstances, no matter who the QB is. We have a bunch or really good receivers. DeBoer has to trust them to make plays in crunch time.

  6. Run the ball. Make a first down or punt or kick fg but rely on and play defense.
    In recent past Maryland has been getting a few 4 star recruits. Recruiting classes have ranked a little higher. IU won against this team on the road.

    1. Maryland gave up passing yardage to Rutgers. I think it is fair to say, and the game showed, that they needed to open things up with the passing game.

      Peyton was great but the Hoosiers were pretty impressive when Penix was in. I think the run game just wore them down as the game progressed. That’s not uncommon.

      To credit Peyton just a little more…IU is an offensive threat at any moment with Penix. Peyton just went out there and won. Gritty…tough.

      Don’t get me wrong. I want Penix in the game. But PR totally rocked today as the backup quarterback.

  7. When IU recovered the fumble a touchdown was needed you had the ball in the red zone , if Maryland has scored a TD and won the game the idea to run down the clock and settle for a FG would blown the whole season on one missed played series of downs.

    1. …and if the tight end doesn’t tip the ball in the air for an end zone interception IU would go up 21-7.

      Individual plays are what football is about. If Maryland didn’t have a couple speedsters who outran the IU D a couple times it wouldn’t have been close.

      It always comes down to a handful of plays.

    2. Yes, Peyton Ramsey character leadership, attitude, team player shines In this game. I have always said that PR is better coming off bench than as starter because of several variables.
      Reality is game played out as it did. Throughout game give some credit. Not perfect but Defense made a stand against Maryland on 4th and short. Defense recovered fumble. Defense at end caught ball on pass interception and didn’t drop it. Offense scored points even though were penalized heavily which some were self destructive and dumb. OL provided protection. Scott run ball well and demonstrated durability. Despite defense and offense mistakes IU beat a difficult team (because of athletes and speed) on the road. I feel Maryland on the road is a harder team than both, Nebraska on road and Northwestern at home for IU to match up with and win.

  8. This game was the exception. IU could easily have lost. The penalties would have been the reason. Way too many stupid mental errors on IU’s part. They must put a stop to all the stupid penalties. No more than six per game is acceptable. They have the talent to produce a winning season. Now they have to have the brains.

    1. Chet, I agree that most games come down to a hand full of plays. There are so many IU games I have watched over the years where we were a few inches from tipping away an opposing pass completion or of not catching a TD pass that could have won a game, or of an opposing team getting a key 1st down by an inch or two, or of us missing a 1st down by the same margin.

      The key in yesterdays game was the D getting those two turnovers. The first by Burgess was all effort on his part. He literally raked the ball out and then was able to recover it before it went out of bounds. In years or games past, that ball might have bounced out of bounds and stayed with Maryland, but yesterday luck was finally on IU’s side and Burgess was able to secure the ball. Taylor’s interception was a bad throw by the MD quarterback and great concentration by a great athlete, Taylor, to secure the catch and the win. How many dropped interceptions have we seen this year and the last several years. They all could have been game changers, especially the dropped TD interception in the 1st quarter against MSU, but our DB’s couldn’t make the play. Reece Taylor did make the play and the result was the team’s 5th win.

      V13 is right (as he normally is) when he says the coaching staff should play Mullins, Williams, and Taylor and let them learn. Their upside is tremendous. The reason for all those penalties on MD’s first drive was that our CB’s couldn’t cover MD’s speedy receivers, so they resorted to holding and grabbing and getting called for pass interference.

      Finally, I wonder if the vanilla play calling and lack of passing on the last several series had anything to do with PR getting hit really hard on his right arm and shoulder on one of his gutsy runs a short time earlier? The MD player launched himself and the full force of his body hit Peyton on his upper right arm. You could tell it hurt Peyton, but he is such a gamer, he shrugged it off. At the least, he is going to have a pretty deep bruise on that upper arm for a week or two going forward.

  9. So we’ve had 2 conference wins against crummy east coast teams (UConn variety) which never used to be in the BigTen. Yippee.

    Penn State is the only football team east of Ohio worth a hill of beans….And with their recent seedy history, it’s sad to even think we must take the same field with that program.

    Other than OSU, we have yet to face any of the true beef of the BigTen. It’s sort of amazing how soft scheduling and soft conference wins early can make a program 5-2 without playing anyone( other than a Buckeye. It’s the pathway to cupcake bowls…and “achievements” based on very low bars(certainly nothing of “breakthrough”).
    Show me you can beat Michigan, PSU….or even upset Wisconsin(as Illinois did yesterday) and then descriptors like “gritty” and “offensive threat at any moment” can be more than a leaky boat.

    Maryland has been fading….They’re not very good. Of course, better than ‘stuck in a Rutgers’….but still pretty bad.

  10. Speaking of dropped passes. Harry Gonso end zone dropped pass to Al Gage in
    68 Rose Bowl.

    Ranger, I agree first two things stood out in my mind as well.
    Burgess making fumble recovery before ball went out of bounds and Taylor (tip of the iceberg for him… and he has the right head coach for him) executing pass interception. I have watched well over a hundred times where given similar scenarios plays not executed.

  11. Just caught the game on replay. Winning on the road in the Big Ten is no small task. 5 wins before Halloween is rare territory.

    12 penalities? Man, this year is a golden opportunity for Indiana to step up in a weak Big Ten. There aren’t too many games where you give away over 100 yds in penalities and win in the Big Ten.

    Someone go out and get the deer antler cream that Ray Lewis took to get back into the field for the Superbowl. Then marinate Penix in it every day for hours. Ramsey did well in relief, and he’s tough. But the offense is completely different. He’s a serviceable backup, though. Appreciate his attitude to realize his role and step up and play hard. He took a couple of shots.

  12. I certainly see how Maryland horse raced an overrated Syracuse team. They had some guys who, once they cleared the seam, were going to the house. If your linebackers can’t contain those guys could run all day.

    I didn’t see the game but I’ll bet there were a bunch of big play scores against the Orange Guys.

  13. Iowa has some serious offensive line problems. Of course, Purdue doesn’t even pretend to have a running game anymore. They racked up a big 33 yards yesterday.

    I still don’t know what to think about the B1G west.

  14. Thats a very weak Maryland team who couldn’t stop Purdues passing game at all you guys are giving them way too much credit IU did what it was supposed to do beat a weaker team and last thing I wanna say is I think it’s safe to say that Michael Penix can be considered injury prone now

    1. brown, I haven’t read where anyone has said otherwise. I think think the consensus is that Maryland is better than Rutgers. Nobody claimed they were particularly good.

      Penix is certainly getting a reputation as injury prone, for sure. He is still a teenager, though. These things can change.

  15. It’s hard to get a feel for Northwestern. Before the season they would likely have been picked to be 1-5 right now based on their schedule. Their only win was against a truly bad UNLV team that trounced Vanderbilt (Vandy and Rutgers need to play). The rest of their games they were an underdog to begin with.

    That being said, I agree with you.

    I’m curious to see how Minnesota does against a quality team. It’s a good year to be playing in the B1G west.

  16. Nebraska is beatable but it is at their place Northwestern flat out sucks they’ve used 3 Qbs they average a pathetic 277 yards per game and 12 points a game if they can’t beat those 2 teams especially Northwestern then there’s something wrong they should get to 8 wins

      1. Here you go.

        At Stanford
        UNLV
        Michigan State
        at Wisconsin
        at Nebraska
        Ohio State

        Where do you see three wins?

  17. I’ll give credit where it’s due. Yes, IU made plenty of mistakes. Yes, Maryland is not exactly a Big10 juggernaut. Nonetheless, IU had plenty of positive and DID finish a road game, scoring off a turnover and ending the game with a good play. Did any of you see Tom Allen’s presser? He said had IU not made half time adjustments on D, Taylor would have never been in position to make the game ending interception.

    The teams IU has previously fielded under Coach Tom Allen probably would have lost yesterday’s game. IU has not fast tracked to anything resembling the top tier in the Big10, but the team has unequivocally improved. They are sitting at 5-2, which is a darn good position for a team that finished 5-7 the last two years. I remain steadfast in my support of TA and belief in this team, both with respect to this year and especially its future. Barring injury (knock on wood, this is IU we’re talking about), we should be looking at a very competitive, Big10 middle tier team for the next couple of years and hopefully beyond. GO HOOSIERS!!!

    1. With 5 games left in the regular season Coach Allen is already the winningest coach over their first three seasons at IU.

      If he still the winningest coach in a decade there will still be people giving the credit to Kevin Wilson.

  18. No matter how you look at the game against Maryland it was a game IU would lose most of the time in the past. The key is now what does the team do with this 2 game winning streak in the B1G, yes H4H they aren’t the powers, but they are victories against B1G teams. If the team uses this game to beat Nebraska and then NW going into the bye week to heal up then this game could be a program changer.

    This last game is just opening up the possibility of what can happen this season especially when many thought IU would win only four games with this year’s schedule. Now IU looks to win the next two games to have a four game winning streak heading into the teeth of the schedule for the second time this season. Without winning the next two games the chances this team can change the program will be disappearing.

    1. v13: Agreed that probably what most feel about this game is that IUFB would have lost it in almost all of its previous incarnations. But the Mary game as a “program changer” is only in the hindsight of your hypothetical “[I]f the team uses this game to beat Nebraska and then NW.” It remains that Mary is not very good, but it also remains that IU is beating the beatables, so I’m happy with how things are sitting for IUFB going into the last Saturday of October.

      The improved rushing v. Mary is to be viewed most skeptically. Check out https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ncaaol/2019. The IUOL ranks 10th nationally in sacks allowed, but awful in every other OL category. I guess Hiller can teach ’em either to pass block or to run block, but not both. Hart will be gone unless TA can find someone who can do both. Or maybe it’s vice versa; Hart is still around ’cause his talent with the RBs isn’t on anyone’s radar because his backs get no help from Hiller’s charges.

      As for TA’s idiotic sideline antics, maybe that’s what seventeen year-olds are buying into these days when the IU recruiters call, but I can’t help but think of what stone-faced Tom Landry said about his (supposed) lack of emotion: “If you’re thinking about the last play, you can’t be thinking about the next one.” At least I think that it was Landry.

  19. T,
    My memory must be fading (actually I know it is) as I don’t remember the dropped Gonso to Gage pass in the Rose Bowl. I do remember that I thought IU could still pull out the win until late in the 4th quarter after USC’s final score. I knew a lot of the guys on that team and was a teammate of Ken Kaczmarek and Jim Sniadecki in high school.

    My wife to be and I had a fantastic time out in LA for that game. She was a sophomore and headed up the card section. I had graduated in August and went on active duty with my new shiny butter bars on my shoulders. Of course, that was before all the TV games, so I didn’t didn’t see any of the September games. I then went to Ranger school in October, November, and part of December and was literally out in the woods, mountains, and swamps for the next 9 weeks. I would get a letter every week or two from my wife to be and she would send me newspaper clippings as the season progressed, but I missed the entire Cinderella season!

    I graduated from Ranger school right before Christmas and got two weeks leave which enabled me to fly out to the Rose Bowl. Hard to believe that was over 50 years ago!! Still have an IU Rose Bowl pennant. Doubt there are many of those around anymore.

    1. Kaczmarek was a friend of Bob Russell, a starting guard on the team, and I lived with Russell for a summer as he attended medical school in Indy and I was a legal intern for the City. My introduction to Kaz was opening the front door and getting knocked to the floor as Russell quipped “ don’t kill him I haven’t collected this week’s rent yet”! I also went to HS with Bobby Kirk, a starting tackle, and grew up playing sports against Jade Butcher, a wide receiver. A great group of over achievers!

  20. Ranger, I was only nine years old on Jan. 1, 1968 but we were living in So. Cal. then. Dad had dropped out of IU probably at ten years before that. A natural salesman, he and my mother were living in the trailers for married students near the old Tenth Street Stadium wher he figured out, quite correctly, that he didn’t need some diploma to talk people into buying encyclopedias. But the drop-out and his bride decorated our white Rambler station wagon with banners and whatnot and hit the road for Pasadena. We still have the pictures of the decorated Rambler. His only comments about the game that I recall were 1) that OJ Simpson was the real difference-maker for Trojans and that 2) compared to the enthusiastic Hoosier fans, the USC crowd seemed almost blasé. “I guess Rose Bowls aren’t a big deal for them,” he said. I am proud to tell, however, that although my father did very well as a salesman for many years, he did indeed get that diploma- from IUSB in 1972, only a couple of years before I left the nest for Bloomington!

  21. Oh God whoever the Davis guy is please spare us the old man “back in my day” comments okay, Tom Landry he was a great coach and innovator but don’t compare Tom Allen he has enthusiasm it maybe over the top sometimes but just stop it this ain’t 1975 it’s 2019

  22. i can’t tell if IU is a good team that plays down to top competition or a bad team that plays their best against lesser opponents. I guess the Nebraska team should give the answer. IU has enough talent to win the next 2 games but can they execute well enough to win? They have already played the worst teams on their schedule.

    1. That is not clear. MD could be the equal, or better than NE or NW. Purdue is not a strong team, except at home, against IU, with bowl game implications!

      1. The subcutaneous pus accumulations may not be a strong team, but they’ve played a lot better in the two weeks most recent.

  23. This is sort of becoming a geriatric blog….

    Outside of all our frail participants on Senior Scoop, only Michael Penix seems to have more joint problems. Compared to Penix, everyone here feels young again…? I mean, geriatrics are always “day by day”…and “questionable” …just like Mike! If I could be like Mike….

    Any news or updates on last night’s shuffleboard tournament at the Double Down Oaks Retirement Retreat in San Jose?
    An old dude on Senior Scoop named Geoff once said he thought it was a “bridge year.” He never returned after that long hiatus of playing cards….A year of playing bridge away from Scoop and then kaput. Maybe he wasn’t playing with a full deck …? …and headed over to blog at Inside the Bingo Hall?

  24. I know it only seems like four seasons ago….The following video is for the Rose Bowl geriatric crowd.
    Fun Activity: Try to find the guy most like Coach Allen on the dance floor.

  25. 123, I think IU is a team that hasn’t had a winning season for a long time and is now learning as they go how to win games. These next two games will show if they have learned quickly enough to have a winning season. This past game a patched OL only allowed one sack and blocked for more than 200 yd rushing. The defense is loaded with first year playing players at DT and corner yet is playing well enough to win games. The other players are red-shirt or sophomores which gives them a group to improve all season.

    This team could be the team to breakthrough but they have to win more games this season and hopefully upset Michigan or PSU.

    1. A record of 8-4 would be fantastic! The games versus PSU and MI are pure opportunity games. Keep your expectations reasonable! This team has serious work to do this Saturday. Go IU!

      1. BB – Being a bit rough on Davis? Maybe you need to chill a bit. What’s wrong with a little reminiscing about fond memories from years gone by, especially when it pertains to IU’s only Rose Bowl appearance? I, for one, enjoyed his story about his dad. If you didn’t like it, fine, but there is no need to attack him for his post. I also enjoyed Beat Purdue’s story about Kaz.

        1. Ranger, thanks, but I think BB was referring to my Tom Landry comment. Times have indeed changed. But leadership, I submit, requires an element of gravitas. Can’t imagine that Caesar or Napoleon leapt off his mount to hug every non-com who successfully executed an order.

          1. Brother Chet, I’m not a military veteran, but agree with you that the war/sports analogies are a disservice to those who are. I was just trying to give leadership examples in general (oops, pun not intended).

  26. B1G road win, 5-2, offense with an open playbook and an OC that challenges the defense. A D gelling from DL to S. Increasing consistency with players starting to make plays with the season evolving in a favorable direction.
    To many penalties which can reduce with focus and discipline. OL still not nearly mean enough. That’s on Hiller. I am beginning to Q if a 4-2-5 is best application considering the players making the plays. Small concern I spose. Tremendous pass from PR to Nick. Particularly considering it was from a QB who can’t throw well enough to win games that have to be won and keep WR from being injured. Coach Allen keep up the energy, enthusiasm and fire. It notably is your TM, brand, signature and budding reputation. On to Lincoln and make another IU road win footprint.

  27. It’s going to be easier for opposing teams to game plan their defense against IU with PR at QB rather than Penix. But PR showed enormous “grit” in the way he entered the game and lead IU to that victory on Saturday.

  28. “Penn State is the only football team east of Ohio worth a hill of beans”

    Clemson will hate to hear that. So will Florida. Virginia Tech won’t like it, either. Or Miami. Georgia will be saddened, as well. Obviously, there are plenty more.

    Buy a map.

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