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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

IU reclaims Old Oaken Bucket

Football v. Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE — A season wrought with dropped goals and disappointments, Saturday’s closing game of the 2010 IU football campaign looked nothing like the Hoosiers’ first 11 tries.

They battled back from deficit. They overcame penalties. They simply made plays when plays had to be made.

And IU did it in this season’s last try against its most bitter rival in Purdue — all with the real possibility of program-rocking news mere hours away.

In what proved to IU coach Bill Lynch’s final game at the helm of the Hoosiers, his team sent the embattled coach out the best way it could. IU (5-7, 1-7) overcame Purdue (4-8, 2-6) in overtime, 34-31, to bring the coveted Old Oaken Bucket back to Bloomington for the first time since 2007.

The winning play came from redshirt freshman kicker Mitch Ewald nailing a 31-yard field goal in overtime to send the IU sideline scurrying to hoist the Old Oaken Bucket while the Purdue stadium emptied.

“Our players battled as hard as you could ever battle, and they were awarded with a big win in overtime,” Lynch said. “That’s a great way to finish.”

Lynch was told of his future Sunday morning by IU Athletics Director Fred Glass, the day after he completed a third straight season of just one win in Big Ten play.

But before all of that, before the future of IU football was sent into what will likely be a weeks-long search to find a new leader, IU completed what it hadn’t done at Ross-Ade Stadium since 1996 in beating the Boilermakers.

They didn’t do it without dramatics, either.

Just as kicker Austin Starr sealed IU’s last win against Purdue in 2007 with a game-winning field goal, Ewald proved to be the hero this time around.

Ewald connected on a 26-yard field goal with nine seconds left in regulation to force the game into overtime — a first in the storied series between the Indiana schools.

The field goal was the culmination of a 14-play, 71-yard drive largely led by hobbled senior quarterback Ben Chappell. In his last start in an IU uniform, Chappell was 31-of-50 passing for 330 yards.

The Bloomington native finished as IU’s all-time leader in completions, passing attempts and completion percentage and second all-time in passing yards.

Tied 31-31, IU won the coin toss to start overtime and deferred to take their offensive shot last of the overtime period, giving the ball to Purdue to start.

Purdue’s first play of the extra period from the IU 25-yard line was an ominous one for IU. Purdue quarterback Rob Henry hit a wide-open Kyle Adams for a 19-yard pass to the IU 6-yard line.

Two plays later, the Purdue scoring attempt was sidetracked when IU junior linebacker Jeff Thomas made a diving interception.

“We were sitting in the locker room during halftime, telling the team that we’re going to get a turnover,” Lynch said. “It took us until overtime to get it, but it was a great play by Jeff.”

Just needing any type of score, Chappell returned the offense to the field and followed Purdue’s lead by throwing a first-play completion to a tight end. IU redshirt freshman Ted Bolser caught the Chappell pass for a 14-yard gain.

Conservatively, IU rushed twice on the next two plays before Ewald was again called upon — this time for the win. The kick easily split the uprights.

“This was our bowl game,” Ewald said. “It was just so important to win this game, and I’m so happy I could send the seniors out with a win.”

Junior wideout Tandon Doss might also be leaving the program after the season to pursue options in the NFL. He finished the season in quite a fashion Saturday, catching three touchdown passes and gaining 82 total yards on offense.

After the game, Doss said he would take a few weeks to make his decision for next season.

“It’s great to win, and its great to get it against our rival. Whatever happens, happens,” Doss said.

Never a team known for comebacks in Lynch’s tenure — IU’s biggest comeback during the coach’s four-year run prior to Saturday was eight points — IU looked to be falling apart again in the first half. The Boilermakers had jumped to a 21-7 lead before IU tied the game in the third quarter.

Purdue’s final field goal came as part of a field position battle IU had lost after a penalty and ejection of senior defensive end Terrance Thomas for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter. The Hoosiers, though, weren’t finished.

The game left no hint at what was to come for the program, with players smiling and celebrating while several verbally supported their embattled coach.

“I love coach Lynch and what he does and how he supports us no matter,” Chappell said. “It’s just his inner strength and how he leads us. He always believes in us, no matter what.”

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