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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

Hoosiers go slumpbusting

So, maybe it's understandable that IU's 17-14 win over Illinois didn't cause the Memorial Stadium crowd of 24,102 to charge the field and rip out the goal posts. But for a team that had lost 11 straight in the Big Ten, it must have felt like the weight of the world was lifted from their shoulders.\nIt wasn't the prettiest game ever played. At times, it looked as ugly as a mud wrestling match between Rosie O'Donnell and, well, anybody. It was everything that was expected of two teams at the bottom of any conference -- a nail-biting finish after an error-prone game that could have gone either way. But the Hoosiers looked artistic when they needed to and helped prevent the disaster of a winless conference season.\nIt also swept away the unmistakable feeling of emptiness that seemed to permeate around the stadium. Everything from the tailgate fields to the stands to the press box was even barer than usual. We'll just assume that the cold temperature kept everyone away. They missed a lot of highlights, though.\nHighlight of the game \nEarly in the fourth quarter with Illinois leading 14-7, the Illini faced a fourth-and-one from their own 32-yard line. Illinois attempted to draw the Hoosiers offside for the first down by sending their wide receiver in motion about a dozen times. The fact that he constantly paced back and forth like a guy in bad need of a cigarette break caused everyone in the press box to break out in laughter after about 20 seconds. This was the first time I have seen mass laughter break out in a press box.\nEveryone's general amusement was expounded when IU began celebrating wildly after the play ended because the tricky Illini hadn't fooled them into jumping offsides.\nThe second-best highlight occurred in the stands. In the third quarter, the cheerleaders headed to the stands as they traditionally do, in an attempt to pump up the fans. One group of said cheerleaders were pretty much the only people in their section, though. \nOne cheerleader showed some ingenuity by getting the two people in the top corner of the stadium to start the wave. Unfortunately, it only caught on to about 30 other people, so the cheerleader was forced to resort to yelling out of the stadium with his megaphone.\nWhile it is always fun to see fans enjoying themselves from the Uecker seats, IU's continual woes in drawing fans is a serious problem. Even though it doesn't seem to make too much economic sense, it's a good idea for the athletic department to seriously consider slashing student ticket prices to somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 a pop -- if not just letting people in free with a student ID.\nPlay of the Game\nThe momentum-turning play of the game could have been used for an informational video called "How Horrible Teams Lose Games." As the fourth quarter opened, IU committed three penalties in its first four plays, lost 25 yards, and was forced to punt. \nIllinois then returned the punt for a touchdown -- or so it seemed. The return was called back on a hold, and then an additional 15 yards were tacked on when Illinois' Christian Morton was called for excessive celebration on a touchdown that didn't count in the first place. (Considering how infrequently the Illini score, though, the ref should have understood his exuberance).\nInstead of leading by two scores, Illinois was deflated and had the ball at their own 23-yard line. IU owned them from that point on.\nIU MVP \nThere's no doubt about this one. The Matt LoVecchio that everyone has waited to see came out to play Saturday. LoVecchio completed 17 of 24 passes for 166 yards. But he did his best work on the ground, running the ball 14 times for 59 yards, including an 8-yarder to win it with 24 seconds left.\nHe didn't do it without a quality supporting cast, though. Wide receiver Courtney Roby caught eight passes for 81 yards, finally getting the stats he deserves after having two impressive would-be touchdowns called back on penalties earlier this year.\nThe offensive line gave LoVecchio the time he needed to pass and run today. One standout was Chris Jahnke, who had a great pancake block on the first play of the fourth quarter.

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