In their first game of the year Saturday night, the Hoosiers defeated in-state Football Championship Subdivision opponent Indiana State 24-17 to open the 2012 season 1-0.
“We need to be better, but I feel a lot better today than I did last night,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “A year ago, the way we played, we would have found a way to lose that game.”
In his first start since last November, sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson showed glimpses during the game of why Wilson had been so excited about his second-year player during training camp a few weeks ago.
Roberson passed for 280 yards, a career-high, on 26 completions as he led the Hoosier offense to his first win as a starter. In addition to his one passing touchdown, Roberson also ran for 19 yards and another score.
“I was just listening to the coaches all week, all spring and all fall,” Roberson said. “The O-Line protected really well, wide receivers caught the ball and made plays, and it just felt good and comfortable.”
On one of those plays, Roberson threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Shane Wynn.
Not only was the pass longer than any Hoosier touchdown from scrimmage in the entire 2011 season, it tied the game at seven.
ISU would not lead again.
“We caught them off guard a lot,” Wynn said. “We were able to throw the plays we wanted to throw at them, and we controlled the game.”
Despite the Hoosiers’ offensive productivity, the defense struggled to keep ISU out of Hoosier territory.
Led by running back Shakir Bell, who ran for 192 net-yards Saturday night, ISU reached IU’s side of the field on seven of its 12 possessions.
On its final three drives of the game, ISU was able to get the ball into IU territory each time.
“I wish we had been on it a little bit more,” Wilson said. “Our defense needs to be better.”
In one of ISU’s final possessions, sophomore cornerback Brian Williams, making the first start of his collegiate career, earned his first career interception after a fourth-and-11 pass from ISU quarterback Mike Perish.
That fourth quarter interception in turn led to the Hoosiers keeping their 24-17 lead and allowed more than four minutes of time to be drawn from the game clock.
“I know there were a lot of key plays, but I guess mine was one of those that made a good impact on the game,” Williams said. “I just knew it was a good play for us, and I’m just happy that we got the win.”
Following Williams’ interception, the Sycamores were able to get the ball back and drive down the field to the IU 36-yard line with only two seconds remaining in the game.
As Perish’s final pass sailed into the end zone, IU sophomore wide receiver Cody Latimer knocked down the ball, sealing the Hoosier victory.
While giving up almost 200 rushing yards to the Sycamores, the Hoosier defense still compiled five sacks and two turnovers on the game.
“It’s a decent start, but I’d like to see those guys continue to play better,” Wilson said. “I thought they did well, but with those junior college
linebackers and some other guys, it will be interesting to see where we are in two or three weeks from now.”
With Saturday’s victory, IU matched last season’s overall win total.
Though Wilson said some lingering issues remain from the 2011 team, he said this Hoosier squad is not the same as what it was in 2011.
“We made some of those plays last year where we were on the wrong side of the ledger,” Wilson said. “This year we’ve got to take those plays out, but we were still good enough to overcome those plays and get a W for win one. We’re ready to move forward.”
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