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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

IU bowl hopes slip away at Penn State

Indiana Daily Student

The story is all too familiar for IU football this season: an early lead, a failure to capitalize on opportunities and a second-half struggle.

Saturday’s game against Penn State was no different.

After IU (4-7, 1-6) built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, the No. 18 Nittany Lions took over. Penn State shut out the Hoosiers during the second and third quarters and scored three touchdowns to build a 24-10 lead.

The 31-20 Lions victory kept Penn State (9-2, 5-2) in contention for a BCS bowl and eliminated the Hoosiers’ final chance to qualify for any postseason game.

“It’s really disappointing,” senior safety Nick Polk said. “It hurts deep down inside. Especially being a senior just knowing that our last game is going to be next weekend.”

With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Penn State trailed 10-3, had already committed four turnovers and were at their own 30-yard line.

Penn State’s offense, though, started clicking as they marched down the field.
Running back Evan Royster capped the drive as he ran on a screen pass into the end zone for a 13-yard score to tie the game with six seconds remaining in the half.
Polk said Royster’s touchdown shifted the game as the crowd rallied behind Penn State.

“It changed the momentum for the simple fact they scored a touchdown right as they went into halftime,” Polk said.

In the second half, Penn State added to the momentum. With IU driving into Penn State territory, Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman intercepted an overthrown pass by IU quarterback Ben Chappell. Bowman raced 73 yards untouched to the end zone to give Penn State its first and final lead of the game.

Royster added another rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter and IU never challenged. The Hoosiers added a late field and touchdown to make the score respectable.  

For the first quarter-and-a-half, IU dominated the game. After IU scored a field goal on the opening drive, Mayberry intercepted a tipped pass on the ensuing Penn State possession.

Seven plays later, Damarlo Belcher snagged a pass from Ben Chappell and touched his feet down in the back left corner of the end zone to give IU a 10-0 lead.

But even the 10-0 lead could have been better for the Hoosiers. IU intercepted Clark twice in the first quarter and recovered two fumbled punt returns in the first half, but managed to score just once off the four turnovers.

“We win as a team and we lose as a team, but the offense has to hold up our part of the deal,” IU senior running back Bryan Payton said about the missed opportunities.
“It’s disappointing but we just have to execute.”

This is the third consecutive game in which IU had an opportunity to win against a ranked opponent. Two weeks ago, IU gave up a 10-point lead in a 42-24 loss to Iowa and came up three points short against Wisconsin last week.

IU coach Bill Lynch said it is hard to keep losing in this manner.

“Am I disappointed for the kids? Absolutely,” Lynch said. “They are a great group. They are resilient and they come back every week ready to go.”

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