Indiana Football: Hoosiers start off 2019 in style with win

Tom Allen, Indiana football. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Tom Allen, Indiana football. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Indiana football program got off to a great start with a win on Saturday starting its 2019 season off on a good note.

The Indiana football program kicked off its 2019 season with a win on Saturday against Ball State as they defeated the Cardinals 34-24 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Hoosiers got off to a quick start scoring the first touchdown of the season on just the second play of their second drive of the season. Michael Penix went over the top of the defense, completing a 75-yard touchdown to Nick Westbrook. This is what Indiana fans wanted and what they expected when Penix was announced as the starting quarterback this season.

After that, the Hoosiers defense struggled to contain the Ball State offense and the Cardinals wide receivers took advantage of the Indiana secondary that was working out some kinks. That was headlined by a 45-yard touchdown in the third quarter to cut the lead to 23-17.

While Michael Penix thrived in the Kaleb DeBoer offense most of the game, finishing 24-for-40 with 326 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions, the talented wide receiving core struggled to catch the ball most of the game.

Whether it was a sure touchdown grab by Nick Westbrook in the third quarter, or a first-down conversation inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter for Donovan Hale, the receivers let Penix down at times. Logan Justus kept the Indiana offense moving however, with three career-long field goals (48, 49, 50), ending with four makes on the day which was an Indiana single-game record.

One part of the offense that new coordinator Kaleb DeBoer wanted to take advantage of was at the tight end position. Peyton Hendershot (4 rec, 69 yds) came up big on multiple third-down occasions, including a 22-yarder late in the third quarter resulting in a four-yard touchdown by Stevie Scott to give the Hoosiers a two-touchdown lead.

Overall, the Hoosiers finished with 474 total yards and showed off their skill players on the outside with five players catching three or more balls on the afternoon. Whop Philyor paced Indiana with six catches for 66 yards, while Nick Westbrook added three catches for 103 yards and the one touchdown.

Indiana’s secondary struggled all game long giving up two touchdowns of over 30 yards. Drew Plitt led the Cardinals to 298 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception. With the passing game working, it opened up the running game for a team looking for their lead back. Caleb Huntley returned to his freshman form, rushing for 22 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown.

While Ball State kept it close all game, they were never able to string together multiple stops needed in order to pull out the win.

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Indiana had 255 yards on the ground in 2018 against Ball State but were unable to get anything going on Saturday. Michael Penix led Indiana with seven rushes for 67 yards while Stevie Scott added 19 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns.

The Hoosiers get back to work next weekend when they take host Eastern Illinois at 3:30 pm EST.