Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Indiana football once again pushed the limit, and again picked up an unlikely win

<p>Senior running back Josh Henderson carries the ball Sept. 17, 2022, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana defeated Western Kentucky University 33-30.</p>

Senior running back Josh Henderson carries the ball Sept. 17, 2022, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana defeated Western Kentucky University 33-30.

Somehow, Indiana football is 3-0. For the third consecutive week, the Hoosiers escaped with a victory, finding a way at the very end to beat Western Kentucky University 33-30 in overtime. 

The Hoosiers did not make it easy for themselves either. Trailing by 11 points entering the fourth quarter, they committed several untimely penalties and errors. 

Still, the Hoosiers fought back to tie the game at 30 points with 47 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Then, they tried to give the game right back by committing several errors to give the Hilltoppers a chance. 

First, senior kicker Charles Campbell sent the kickoff out of bounds, giving Western Kentucky the ball at its 35-yard line. After allowing a 19-yard play on third down, the Hoosiers were then flagged for pass interference to move Western Kentucky into field goal range. 

Indiana survived its self-inflicted wounds, and Western Kentucky missed the 44-yard field goal, sending the game to overtime. 

In overtime, the Hoosiers blocked the Hilltoppers’ 39-yard field goal attempt before Campbell drilled a 51-yarder to seal the win for Indiana.  

[Related: Play-by-play recap: Indiana football defeats Western Kentucky 33-30 in overtime]

Mistakes plagued the Hoosiers all throughout the game, not just at the end, and they should be thankful it didn’t cost them the game. Several dropped passes took away potential big plays, missed tackles allowed for the Hilltoppers to run all over the field and poor play-calling ended multiple drives shorter than expected. 

But hey, Indiana won. 

Junior quarterback Connor Bazelak threw for 364 yards, senior running backs Josh Henderson and Shaun Shivers split duties to combine for 123 yards. While the defense faltered for a while, it once again came up in the biggest moments at the end of the game.  

The Hoosiers also had a love-hate relationship with penalties. Some were unfavorable, like a targeting call against Western Kentucky in the first quarter, which was overturned on a drive that the Hoosiers eventually settled for 3 points. However, penalties tremendously helped the Hoosiers down the stretch. Western Kentucky accumulated 33 yards of penalties on Indiana’s game-tying touchdown drive, doing nearly half the work necessary to score. 

Several Indiana players emerged from the win with much bigger roles than prior to the game. Most significant was sophomore offensive lineman Caleb Murphy, who played every snap in his first start protecting Bazelak. 

Also on that list was Henderson, who picked up 65 yards and a touchdown on the ground along with an impressive one-handed catch leading to a 32-yard gain. Henderson received more snaps than the starter Shivers down the stretch — a position battle to watch closely in the future. 

Regarding long-term takeaways, I’m not sure what there is to offer. All I can do is beg the question: 

Is Indiana just extremely lucky at the end of games? Or are these late-game heroics telling of this Hoosier team, who has elevated play on both sides of the ball when the game is on the line. I’ll side with the optimists and choose the latter statement, that Indiana’s experience proves valuable in close-game situations. 

Follow reporters Garrett Newman (@GarrettNewman20) and Jacob Spudich (@spudichjacob) and columnist Will Foley (@foles24) for updates throughout the game and the rest of the Indiana football season. 

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