Just five seconds were left on the clock in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. The Hoosier faithful were deflated, their team just went three-and-out after giving up a 71-yard touchdown run late in the going against the University of Akron. Akron redshirt junior kicker Dante Jackson lined up for a 32-yard field goal in the middle of the hashes.
What happened next is something that’s been seen before.
A season ago, a pair of Indiana’s wins came because its opponent missed what would’ve been a game-winning field goal. In the matchup between the Hoosiers and Western Kentucky University on Sept. 17, 2022, the Hilltoppers missed a 44-yard field goal wide right at the end of the fourth quarter that would’ve sealed an Indiana loss.
The Hoosiers then traveled to Michigan State on Nov. 19, 2022, and clawed their way back into the game after facing a steep deficit. All Michigan State had to do was drill a 22-yard field goal, but the Spartans missed wide left.
During what turned into a brisk Bloomington night, Indiana fans were disgruntled in the second half. The Hoosiers’ offense struggled to pull away from the Zips, but Indiana’s defense kept them in the game. Tied at 17, Jackson trotted onto the turf in hopes of sealing an Akron victory.
Just as the Spartans did in a snowy game in East Lansing, Michigan, Jackson missed the game-winning field goal wide left.
Indiana fans rejoiced, giving the Hoosiers new life as they headed into overtime still tied at 17. After the Zips missed an opportunity to seal the victory, Indiana did just the same thing.
Lined up for a two-point attempt in the third overtime, redshirt freshman quarterback Tayven Jackson dropped back to pass looking to seal an Indiana victory. Sophomore running back Jaylin Lucas was wide open in the endzone, but Jackson didn’t make the throw.
“He’s not my read,” Jackson said postgame. “It’s one, two, three and then get out of there. I’ve never looked at Jaylin ever running that play in practice.”
While Jackson went on to convert on Indiana’s next two-point attempt, the Hoosiers’ defense needed to make a stop on the Zips’ two-point attempt — and they did.
Although Indiana emerged victorious from what turned into a back-and-forth contest, Allen sensed his team had a lack of focus throughout their week of preparation.
“We actually restarted some things on Thursday,” Allen said postgame. “I just sensed the lack of understanding who we were playing and their ability to beat you, which is mind-blowing because we don’t have any right to think that at this point.”
Allen wasn’t the only one who explained that parts of the Hoosiers’ offense and defense need to be cleaned up before traveling to take on Maryland on Sept. 30.
“Just missed tackles and things like that we got to clean up, fit in where we need to fit, and we will get that cleaned up for next week,” sixth-year senior linebacker Aaron Casey said postgame.
While its defense gave up 27 points — 4 more than it did against Ohio State on Sept. 3 — Indiana’s offense scored just 10 points in regulation. With a matchup against the Terrapins on the horizon, Jackson has set his sights on cleaning up certain aspects of his performance to ensure stronger execution.
“Seeing signals and being better at reading the defense a little bit more,” Jackson said. “I was rushed a little bit, and I was trying to force things. That’s never good when I do that, but as a team, we just need to have better focus.”
With the team’s poor focus and overlooking Akron in the rearview mirror, the Hoosiers will now set their sights on undefeated Maryland.
“We play a Big Ten team next week, and what we did today out there tonight is not going to cut it,” Jackson said.