The tone for IU football's home season opener was set before the captains met for the coin toss.
As fireworks went off, the IU players poured out of the tunnel and past Hep’s Rock. Head coach Tom Allen let out a roar and a huge fist pump as he led the Hoosiers onto the field at Memorial Stadium for the first time this season to face Eastern Illinois University.
The same energy that exuded from Allen carried onto the field during the game as the Hoosiers started fast and didn’t slow down until the final whistle. IU cruised to a 52-0 victory, the largest margin of victory in Memorial Stadium history.
On the first drive of the game, IU spread the ball out and executed with efficiency as it marched down the field.
Sophomore Stevie Scott, who struggled in the season opener against Ball State, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry, found room to run early with 18 yards in the first drive of the game. He managed 61 yards Saturday afternoon, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
In the air, freshman Michael Penix Jr. picked up right where he left off last week, starting five-for-seven for 57 yards while throwing to five different receivers before finding red shirt freshman wide receiver Miles Marshall in the end zone to open the scoring.
“I love throwing it to all of them,” Penix said. “Whoever’s open, I tell them they’re going to get the ball and make sure that happens.”
In just under a half of play, Penix continued to show his promise as the starter, completing 14-of-20 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns while leading the team up and down the field as the Hoosiers scored on their first three drives of the game.
IU’s energy and execution did not relent even as the backups started to enter the game late in the second quarter and in the second half.
When junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey entered the game in relief of Penix late in the second quarter, his first play was a 64 yard touchdown pass to backup running back sophomore Ronnie Walker down the right sideline. This was an early exclamation point on a game in which he completed 13 of 14 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, IU was just as sound, bringing players down as quickly as they were getting the ball.
“We’re seeing the progress,” said Allen after the game. “We were tackling better and now you got to go do it against a top five team.”
Allen and defensive coordinator Kane Wommack couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game from the defense as the Hoosiers forced the Panthers to go three and out on their first three drives of the game.
“All week during practice, coach Allen and coach Wommack made an emphasis [on cleaning up mistakes] and had specific tackling drills, so I feel like we brought that onto the field,” sophomore linebacker James Head said.
In a game where IU dominated from start to finish and had more touchdowns than Eastern Illinois had first downs, it was a good dress rehearsal for its first Big Ten game next week against Ohio State.
“Ohio State is just another team," Penix stated. "We all work out the same, we all put our clothes on the same, so there’s nothing different between us.”
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