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Stevie Scott III, IU football rush attack find their footings in 38-3 win



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Fifth-year offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak lifts sophomore running back Stevie Scott III on Sept. 21 at Memorial Stadium. Scott scored the final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

On sophomore running back Stevie Scott III's 15th carry in a 38-3 win over the University of Connecticut, he immediately leapt over a tackler at the line of scrimmage before diving past the first down marker.

Scott kept the drive alive, took another carry for five more yards and watched fifth-year receiver Nick Westbrook score from 16 yards out to extend the Hoosiers’ lead in the third quarter.

Without dual-threat freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. for the second straight game, IU used the run game to its advantage like it did last season.

“Coming off last week and going into practice, that was something we keyed on the most,” Scott said. “Just getting two-to-three yards each run play and not being tempted for the explosive plays. Take the game slow and everything will come. That’s something we’ve been working on.”

In the team’s first two wins of the season, IU had its struggles in the run game, but it was almost nonexistent when then-No. 6 Ohio State beat up on IU, 51-10, last week. In the loss, Scott had just six carries for nine yards. 

Against Connecticut, Scott and his blockers were relentless after a solid week of practice.

“You’ve got to be able to run the ball at this level,” Scott said.

Junior wide receiver Whop Philyor jumps on redshirt sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot on Sept. 21 at Memorial Stadium. Hendershot had just scored a touchdown. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

The Hoosiers rushed for over 100 yards in both week one and two but couldn’t manage to total 50 yards against the Buckeyes. IU responded and put on its best run display of the season in Saturday’s win. The team ran the ball 40 times for a combined 178 rushing yards, both season highs. 

“The more carries as the game goes on is just building a rhythm for any running back,” Scott said. “Wearing down the defense and opening up the passing game, that’s something we like to do.”

Scott is coming off a breakout campaign, going for over 1,000 yards as a true freshman as he helped make rushing a staple of the Hoosier offense. This season Scott draws a lot of attention from opposing defenses, which can force IU to throw the ball more. 

Penix impressed with his arm in his first two collegiate starts, but the Hoosiers have been with junior Peyton Ramsey at quarterback ever since. Though Ramsey couldn’t get much going against Ohio State’s stingy defense, he looked better out of the pocket against Connecticut. 

Ramsey strolled to his left and right to make a few throws Saturday and evaded pressure in the pocket at times before picking up yardage with his legs. With Ramsey and Scott complimenting each other nicely, IU’s run-pass balance was a matchup nightmare for the Connecticut defense. 

“To me, it was more of a commitment to make sure we’re just going to keep running that football,” IU head coach Tom Allen said. “That’s just kind of life in the Big Ten, so we’ve got to be able to balance that out and keep people off balance.”

IU’s offense had a busy day on the ground with no rushing scores to show for, until Scott got into the end zone late in the game. He found a lane on his left from six yards out and took it in untouched for a touchdown, putting a cap on scoring for the day. 

A week removed from a crushing home loss, Scott and the Hoosiers are back in the win column.

“We just challenged our guys and stuck to the process of what we believe in,” Allen said. “We just have to keep getting better. All we have to do is put all our energy into that one game each week.”

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