It was a day of firsts for IU football in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Tom Allen claimed his first win as IU coach, freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey played his first meaningful collegiate minutes and IU secured its first win of the 2017 season with a 34-17 triumph against Virginia.
The game didn't begin according to plan, though. Both IU and Virginia began the game sluggishly on offense, combining for just over 100 total yards through the first quarter.
Senior quarterback Richard Lagow was ineffective for IU, posting only 24 passing yards while completing 3 of 10 passes, along with an interception thrown.
But the Hoosier defense made sure Virginia wasn't able to take advantage. The game began with each team punting the ball on its first three drives, before the Cavaliers were able to move the ball deep into IU territory.
A key moment came late in the first quarter, as Virginia lined up for a 35-yard field goal attempt. Freshman punter Nash Griffin attempted to run for a first down for Virginia but was stopped short of the line to gain.
Lagow threw his interception on the ensuing IU drive while attempting to find junior wide receiver Luke Timian on a wheel route. It was the last play he would be part of Saturday.
Ramsey entered the game on IU's next drive, which featured three running plays for junior running back Mike Majette. But Ramsey remained the quarterback after Virginia got on the scoreboard first with a 22-yard field goal and led IU on its first scoring drive midway through the second quarter.
Sophomore running back Devonte Williams set the IU offense up with a good kickoff return, and Ramsey and company did the rest. A 29-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. put IU into the lead for the remainder of the game.
Ramsey led IU on three second-quarter scoring drives, as the Hoosiers scored 17 straight points to end the first half. This included a 26-yard touchdown run by Ramsey late in the second quarter.
Senior kicker Griffin Oakes wrote himself into the IU record books as the halftime whistle blew, sending a 51-yard field goal attempt through the uprights to become the new IU leader in field goals made with 54.
The Cavaliers and Hoosiers traded blows early in the second half, as junior running back Jordan Ellis cut the IU lead to seven with a 12-yard rushing touchdown for Virginia.
Ramsey remained composed at quarterback and continued to complete passes, helping march IU downfield to answer Virginia's score, as Oakes converted on a 48-yard field goal.
The Hoosiers took firm control of the game late in the third quarter when Ramsey found junior wide receiver Donavan Hale for a 32-yard touchdown pass to extend the IU lead to 27-10.
IU's history of fourth quarter collapses could be seen on the horizon as the game experienced a 14-point swing early in the period.
Senior defensive lineman Greg Gooch landed a blindside hit on Virginia senior quarterback Kurt Benkert, resulting in a fumble that was picked up by senior defensive lineman Robert McCray III. McCray returned the fumble 85 yards for an IU touchdown, but after a review by the officials, Gooch was assessed a 15-yard penalty for targeting and was ejected from the game.
Gooch will also miss the first half of next week's home game against Florida International.
The Cavaliers took advantage of the call and trimmed the lead to 27-17 with a short touchdown pass a few minutes later.
IU drove all the way to the Virginia three-yard line on its next drive, but couldn't put points on the board. Allen and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord elected to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal with Ramsey passing the ball, although the pass fell incomplete.
The IU win was secured only one minute later, with a 44-yard punt return touchdown by junior wide receiver J-Shun Harris II.
The win is IU's first in 287 days and means the Hoosiers will have a chance to climb above a 0.500 winning percentage next weekend.
After the game, IU Athletic Director Fred Glass awarded two game balls in the IU locker room.
The first went to Allen. The second also went to Allen, with instructions to deliver it to Allen's father, who underwent open heart surgery earlier this week.
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