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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

New setting no better, football team falls to Penn State

Football v. Penn State

LANDOVER, Md. — Six straight losses in conference play left IU scrambling to find something new to strike its losing ways.

What better, then, than for the Hoosiers to take their game to a place they’ve never played before?

The move — IU’s first regular season game at a neutral site in 10 years — brought the game to FedExField in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The result was just more of the same for the beleaguered squad.

IU (4-7, 0-7) continued a history of nothing but losing against Penn State (7-4, 4-3) on Saturday, losing 41-24. The Nittany Lions finished the game on a 17-0 run to easily top the hapless Hoosiers just outside the nation’s capital.

It was a game that turned on IU mistakes.

First, a bit of an errant snap to IU punter Chris Hagerup disrupted the junior’s kick sequence enough to let Penn State’s Andrew Dailey fully block the punt. PSU’s James Van Fleet scooped up the fumble and returned it 21 yards to break open a 24-24 tie with 1:40 left in the third quarter.

“The snap took him outside the wall. Then once the ball is outside the wall it’s very, very difficult for the wall to know where the ball is,” Lynch said, referring to Hagerup’s blockers.

Dailey appeared to make the block nearly untouched.

The very next drive, IU senior quarterback Ben Chappell threw a tipped interception to PSU’s Drew Astorino at the IU 43-yard line. The Nittany Lions would convert the turnover into a 35-yard field goal and seemingly deflate the Hoosiers.

IU wouldn’t score again.

“It’s getting old,” IU senior safety Mitchell Evans said. “We’re out there fighting every down, and we can’t help the outcome. All we can do is keep competing. Hopefully, the ball will fall toward us one of these times, and we’ll get a ‘W.’”

Early on, IU looked to at least be catching the breaks the team needed and at best countering every shot from Penn State.

The Hoosiers trailed 14-0 early after Penn State scored its second touchdown just after the start of the second quarter. By halftime, IU trailed 17-14 after senior wideout Terrance Turner hauled in a 12-yard pass from Chappell with 2:35 left in the half.

“I was really proud of the way our guys and the way they battled. We fell behind 14-0 when they really dominated the first quarter,” Lynch said. “The next two quarters, I really thought we played well...I thought there were some really gutsy performances by guys who were banged up.”

Included among that list of players playing hurt was Chappell. The senior quarterback finished 22-of-41 for 235 passing yards.

He shared time with redshirt freshman quarterback Edward Wright-Baker, who played several snaps in a Wildcat-like offense and rushed three times for 15 yards.

But the Hoosiers couldn’t maintain.

Penn State, with a 31-24 lead and the ball to start the fourth quarter, never let up. The Nittany Lions added another touchdown and a field goal in the fourth to seal their perfect 14-0 record all-time against IU.

As a result, IU’s season will have a very finite ending. The loss guaranteed IU can’t win six games and therefore earn bowl eligibility. IU plays at Purdue on Saturday for the Old Oaken Bucket.

“I’m really disappointed for those guys in that locker room,” Lynch said.

IU will now have played in a single bowl game (2007 Insight Bowl) during Lynch’s four years at IU’s helm.

The Penn State game was originally supposed to be a home game for IU, slated to be played at Memorial Stadium, but IU Athletics Director Fred Glass opted to move the game to the home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins for financial reasons.

The Redskins offered $3 million to IU for the game — money Glass said last week was being used to fund IU’s new student-athlete Academic Resource Center.

The expense of the move was a crowd heavily partial to the “visiting” Nittany Lions.

With the exception to lone swath of Cream and Crimson fans backing one half of IU’s sideline in FedExField’s lower bowl, the vast majority of the 78,790 in attendance seemed to support Penn State.

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