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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

IU sustains against Akron, scores its first third-quarter touchdown since last November

football

Battling back from an ACL injury, IU senior safety Austin Thomas worked each day this off-season to return to peak condition.

It showed Saturday when Thomas intercepted Akron quarterback Matt Rodgers twice en route to a 38-21 win against the Zips.

“All the guys up front were getting pressure on the quarterback,” Thomas said. “Putting hands in his face, hitting him all game long, and it makes it easy on a defensive back and very hard on a quarterback. Any time you go on the road in a hostile environment and quiet their fans, it feels good.”

Thomas was not the only defensive player who made a significant impact for the IU defense.

Junior linebacker Tyler Replogle had a breakout game with seven tackles, a sack and an interception returned 30 yards in the third quarter.

IU senior defensive end Greg Middleton continued his strong season with six tackles. He also recorded a sack on the first drive of the game.

Sophomore cornerback Andre LaGrone added an interception of his own late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for the Hoosiers.

Without an interception in the first two games, Thomas said, “It was good to get that monkey off our back.”

A touchdown pass in the first quarter was the only legitimate score the Hoosier starting defense gave up all game.

The second Akron touchdown came on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone and the final points occurred in the last minute with IU backups on the field.

IU coach Bill Lynch said he was pleased with the overall defensive effort.

“I thought our defense played well again in the sense that we controlled the run,” Lynch said. “It gave us a chance to get after the quarterback and our coverage was good. They are really playing hard and making plays and today they created the turnovers which were really big.”

The Zips averaged only 3.5 yards per carry for 106 total yards on the ground. Akron’s top rusher was Rodgers, who gained 44 yards – almost all when a passing play broke down.  

But stopping the run was not the only aspect of the game the Hoosiers’ defense excelled in.

Rodgers looked uncomfortable in the pocket throughout the four quarters. Constant pressure from the IU defense caused the Zips’ quarterback to make poor throws – four of which were intercepted.

The most yardage given up to an individual receiver was 86 to Deryn Bowser. In addition, no Zips player had more than three receptions on the afternoon.

“Offensively our consistency just wasn’t even close and credit goes to the IU defense,” Akron coach J.D. Brookhart said. “We kind of got into a little bit of a drop-back game and their defensive backs just reared back and got going. Their ends are tough and they are strong and fast so they made some things difficult.”  

IU senior defensive end Jammie Kirlew said the road victory is important as the team heads into its first Big Ten match-up at Michigan next week.

“This team is really good and we are still learning that,” Kirlew said. “The culture has changed. Getting a win like this by a wide margin definitely helps build confidence for our young guys.”  

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