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IU football continues winless start to Big Ten play


Sophomore wide receiver Whop Philyor catches a touchdown pass for IU in the fourth quarter against Michigan on Oct. 14. Katie Franke Buy Photos

In a game that seemingly encompassed the entire 2017 IU football season into a 60-minute stretch, the Hoosiers lost 42-39 Saturday to the Maryland Terrapins in College Park, Maryland.

IU (3-5, 0-5 in the Big Ten) outgained Maryland (4-4, 2-3 in the Big Ten) in total yards 483 to 345, had 63 less penalty yards than Maryland and also had nearly double the amount of first downs as Maryland. 

However, a litany of special teams mistakes and missed opportunities cost IU and resulted in a third-straight loss for the Hoosiers.

"Our offense played well enough for us to win," IU Coach Tom Allen told reporters after the game. "Team loss for sure. Very disappointed because we did so many good things offensively that they deserved to come out with a win."

The game could not have started better for IU. 

Freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey led the Hoosiers on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to start the day at Maryland Stadium. The first drive featured a steady diet of passes to junior wide receiver Luke Timian, who made three catches on the opening drive.

It was junior wideout Simmie Cobbs Jr. who had the touchdown grab, a 34-yard reception that came on a play during which Maryland was flagged for offside.

Allen's defense was also clicking early on, as the Hoosiers forced an interception on Maryland's second offensive play.

Senior safety Tony Fields intercepted Maryland sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager and retuned the interception inside the Maryland 40-yard line.

Four plays later, IU was 14-0 up. Freshman running back Cole Gest scored via a 23-yard touchdown reception, which featured a vicious stiff-arm by Gest on his way to the end zone.

IU got the ball back on offense less than three minutes later with a chance to go up three scores on Maryland, but instead Ramsey was intercepted by Maryland junior defensive back Darnell Savage Jr. deep in IU territory.

The Terrapins capitalized one play later on a 14-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Lorenzo Harrison III.

The Hoosiers closed the first quarter strong by forcing their first safety of the year on defense. 

Sophomore defensive lineman Allen Stallings IV burst through the Maryland offensive line to subdue junior running back Ty Johnson for a six-yard loss inside his own end zone. 

The 16-7 IU advantage lasted until midway through the second quarter, when IU's special teams woes began. Sophomore punter Haydon Whitehead had his punt blocked and retuned for a touchdown by Savage Jr. to cut the lead to 16-14.

Senior defensive lineman Greg Gooch was the IU player who failed to block Savage Jr. on the punt.

"He has a job to do and he missed his guy," Allen said.

Ramsey and the IU offense quickly made amends for the special teams gaff with a touchdown drive. The drive saw two pass completions of more than 20 yards, the first one was for 22 yards to Cobbs and the second one went to Timian for 23 yards for the score.

But Maryland closed the first half just as well as IU started it.

Consecutive touchdown drives from the Terrapins saw Bortenschlager connect with senior wide receiver Taivon Jacobs and junior wide receiver D.J. Moore on touchdown passes. 

The scores flipped the script of the game entering halftime, as Maryland led 28-23.

Just like in the first half, IU came out of the locker room playing well. 

Junior defensive lineman Jacob Robinson blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt by Maryland before the Hoosiers regained the lead on their next possession.

That lead came despite Ramsey exiting the game with a right-leg injury during IU's 80-yard touchdown drive. Ramsey connected with Cobbs Jr. on four occasions and moved the football to the Maryland 11-yard line before he was hit late and had his right leg buckle beneath him.

Senior quarterback Richard Lagow entered and found freshman wide receiver Whop Philyor for an 11-yard touchdown on his first play.

Ramsey returned for IU's next drive, a 41-yard field goal by senior kicker Griffin Oakes, to push the IU lead to 33-28.

It was the last lead for IU.

An 82-yard kickoff return by freshman running back Javon Leake set up a one-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Jake Funk to give Maryland a 35-33 lead late in the third quarter.

History repeated itself after an IU three-and-out, as Funk again plowed in for a touchdown to make it 42-33 to Maryland early in the fourth quarter.

Ramsey was injured again during the IU three-and-out. He didn't return to the game and Allen did not specify about the injury during his postgame press conference.

Lagow successfully piloted IU's offense to its final scoring drive of the game with eight minutes left. He made effective use of Philyor and Cobbs Jr. during a six-play sequence that ended with a five-yard pass to Cobbs.

"We use both quarterbacks in practice all the time," Cobbs said. "It's not really a big change. Once it happened, Peyton got hurt and Richard stepped up."

Oakes' extra point was blocked following the touchdown, keeping the Maryland lead at 42-39 and preventing IU from taking the lead with a field goal.

However, the situation to attempt a field goal never presented itself.

IU's final two drives never crossed midfield as the Hoosiers punted and then turned the ball over on downs while slumping to their fifth conference loss of the season.

The turnover on downs was particularly disappointing for the Hoosiers as Philyor was open and targeted by Lagow on a 3rd and 10 play, only to drop a pass that hit his chest.

"After that drop I didn't get back in (to the game)," Philyor said. "I should have caught it."

The loss leaves IU in the perilous position of needing to win three of its final four games to secure six wins and bowl eligibility for a third-straight season.

"We're better than we showed, in my mind, as a team," Allen said. "So that's disappointing for me."

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