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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Hoosiers have guts, but not glory

While their season may be dying, there will be no white flags raised on the IU sideline in the final stretch.  

The Hoosiers, who have lost six out of their last seven games, could have folded on Saturday. As they entered halftime with a 17-7 deficit, the 3Wisconsin Badgers had their way in the trenches, rushing for 196 yards and limiting IU to one yard on the ground.  

IU coach Bill Lynch saw a team lacking energy, and as the team regrouped in the locker room, he put it upon them to find the vigor they would need to pull off a comeback.

“This week, he really didn’t see the fight in us in the first half, so he challenged us to bring up the intensity and try to make plays in the second half,” sophomore wide receiver Tandon Doss said.  

It seems vague and obvious, but second-half intensity has been a problem in Bloomington, and Wisconsin has been an example of that before. Just last year, the Hoosiers trailed the Badgers by only four, and the thin crowd at Memorial Stadium saw Wisconsin go on a 31-0 second-half rampage.  

In the previous two games as well, mistakes in the final 30 minutes led to gut-wrenching losses. In their 31-28 loss Saturday, the Hoosiers showed they at least have guts to wrench.  

Junior quarterback Ben Chappell, terrorized by Wisconsin defensive end O’Brien Schofield and friends throughout much of the game, absorbed hits and threw two interceptions.

The running game, with the Hoosiers playing from behind and starting freshman Darius Willis leaving injured, was virtually non-existent, putting the weight of the game on Chappell’s shoulders.

But through it all, he gave the team a backbone to lean against.   

With 323 yards and three touchdowns, his inspiring performance left Lynch with one word to describe his leader.  

“Gutsy,” Lynch said. “He is exactly what you’re looking for, because he is one tough guy.”

As he watched his quarterback leave it all on the field, Lynch did the same.

He called for the Hoosiers to stay on the field on three fourth downs, converting on each.  

On one occasion, with IU trailing by 10 and the ball on the two-yard line, Lynch faced a familiar dilemma. Just as he did at Northwestern two weeks
prior, he decided to pass on a field goal to go for the gusto.  

Instead of using a Wildcat formation, Lynch gave it to junior running back Trea Burgess this time, with defensive tackle Adam Replogle leading the way, for a touchdown.  

The conservative call would have been to take the easier three points, but, as Lynch said, the Hoosiers played the game to win Saturday. When you’re trying to turn 125 years of losing into a successful program, you have to have unconventional, go-for-it-all games.

The gutsy demeanor and play calling didn’t lead to a victory, but that’s come to be expected. The Badgers dominated on the ground with 294 yards and the Hoosiers defense couldn’t get off the field, as Wisconsin was 11-of-17 on the third down.  

Yet, thanks to the team’s play-to-win philosophy, the game still came down to one play.

The Hoosiers needed to stop one more third down to get the ball back with a chance to make a drive for the win, but a Badger receiver got open and sealed the game.

The execution isn’t there, and the Hoosiers still have a long way to go to be consistent winners, but their refusal to surrender Saturday gives hope to a once hopeless program.

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