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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Underclassmen lead team in Senior Day loss to Boilermakers

Saturday was Senior Day, but as IU fought to a 33-25 loss to rival Purdue, it was largely the team’s underclassmen playing in their first Bucket Game that kept the Hoosiers in contention.

“It’s just kind of been a theme for the whole year, a lot of young guys playing,” true freshman safety Mark Murphy said. “We obviously want to do our best for the seniors and send them out on a good note. I think that had a lot to do with it.”

A drive in the fourth quarter epitomized the day’s theme for IU. The Hoosiers trailed by 16 points when sophomore running back Stephen Houston, in his first season at IU after transferring from Independence (Kan.) Community College, broke a 41-yard run to put the ball in the Purdue red zone.

Four plays later, it was another Bucket Game rookie, true freshman running back D’Angelo Roberts, who capitalized with a five-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, another true freshman, wide receiver Shane Wynn, had his third catch of the drive to convert and cut the deficit to eight points.

Leading the entire drive was true freshman quarterback Tre Roberson, also in his first Bucket Game, who went 5-of-5 for 31 yards on the possession.

Defenders also made significant contributions in their first game against Purdue. Murphy was second on the team with 13 tackles, while redshirt freshmen defensive end Ryan Phillis was third with 11.

Houston finished with 142 total yards to lead the team. In their final college game, the seniors accumulated just 21 yards of total offense.

“It was a great experience,” Houston said. “I really didn’t know how big this rivalry was until I stepped in the locker room today.”

Even with a lack of offensive production from the seniors, IU Coach Kevin Wilson said they were still a part of the team’s efforts and will continue to be.

“We owe it to those seniors because those seniors leaving here didn’t sign up for this,” Wilson said. “This is not what they bought in to. It’s not what they signed up for when they came here.

“That said, these guys worked awfully hard, and we owe it to those guys as we move forward, and we owe it to them to show them that we can keep building it because they are a part of what we started.”

Even with 20 players concluding their IU careers Saturday, the Hoosiers will retain their starting quarterback and leading rusher and receiver next season with multiple seasons of eligibility remaining for each, among other contributors.

“What I see with them is that I myself have to do a much better job in what we’re doing off the field, behind the scenes, in building chemistry and some team love and unity and how to respect each other, trust each other and move forward,” Wilson said. “I like their mindset, their attitude. It is a young crowd, but just because they played young doesn’t mean the future is bright.”

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