The loss drops the Hoosiers’ record to 4-4 on the season.
IU junior quarterback Ben Chappell finished 16-27 for 163 yards. The rushing attack was led by freshman running back Darius Willis with 103 yards, though 70 of those came on a touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka was 26-46 for 312 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He led a 13-play, fourth quarter drive that ended in a game-winning 19-yard field goal by kicker Stefan Demos with 21 seconds remaining.
“Well, it was a tough loss for us,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “(Northwestern) made more plays down the stretch than we did. I thought our kids played hard, but we just did not make any plays in the second half to score points.
“Although the defense did give up yards, they did create turnovers. The inability to take advantage of that eventually caught up with us.”
The first part of the game began as IU had hoped.
On the opening play from scrimmage, the Hoosiers began with a 70-yard run by Willis down the left sideline for a 7-0 lead.
With 3:39 remaining in the first quarter, Chappell led a six-play, 28-yard drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by the passer.
Chappell then completed three passes for 35 yards to begin the second quarter before Willis rushed 3 yards for a touchdown and 21-point advantage.
After a field goal by Northwestern, the Hoosiers made the score 28-3 once IU senior cornerback Ray Fisher returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
But the Wildcats were not out of it.
Kafka completed three consecutive passes for 26 yards, and ran for six more. Later in the drive, Kafka found wide receiver Zeke Markshausen for 17 yards. After a 10-yard run by Kafka, he rushed one yard for the touchdown to trim the IU lead to 28-10 with 3:25 remaining in the half.
After a defensive stop, the Wildcats struck again on their next possession with an eight-yard pass from Kafka to Markshausen to make the score 28-17 at halftime.
The third quarter was all Northwestern.
Punting deep in its territory, the Hoosiers’ kick was blocked by the Wildcats and recovered in the end zone by junior defensive end Terrance Thomas for a safety.
Two possessions later, with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter, Kafka began a drive that ended in a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andrew Brewer to make the score 28-26 early in the final period.
On the final drive of the game for Northwestern, the Wildcats drove the ball 65 yards to the IU two-yard line with 21 seconds remaining. Demos’ 19-yard field goal put Northwestern up 29-28 for the lead and, eventually, the win.
“Northwestern did a great job playing through the whole game,” IU junior wide receiver Mitchell Evans said. “We knew they were going to be like that, and we just let them back in the game. It’s a shame.”
Chappell said the difference Saturday was the ability to play effectively all four quarters.
“It hurts, no question,” Chappell said. “We let it get away. But give Northwestern credit – they never quit.”
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