INDIANAPOLIS — Despite scoring 14 unanswered points in the second-half, Indiana football’s comeback bid fell short in a 21-14 loss to the University of Louisville on Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half and never relinquished it as they improved to 3-0 on the season and dropped the Hoosiers to 1-2.
Indiana received the kickoff and proceeded to give the first three touches of the game to sophomore running back Jaylin Lucas, who compiled 25 yards with a rush and a pair of catches. Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Tayven Jackson in his first full game as the starter, the Hoosiers’ drive stalled in Louisville’s territory, and junior James Evans punted it away.
The Cardinals’ first drive took over six and a half minutes and spanned 71 yards, but it ultimately fell short after junior Brock Travelstead pushed a 38-yard field goal try left of the upright. After Jackson was intercepted by Louisville senior defensive back Cam’Ron Kelly with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter, the Cardinals broke the game open.
On the second play of the drive from Louisville’s 15-yard line, senior quarterback Jack Plummer uncorked a deep ball to junior receiver Jamari Thrash, who won a foot race for an 85-yard score. Thrash tallied a pair of catches for 128 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter and continued to cause issues for Indiana’s secondary.
Louisville regained possession less than a minute into the second quarter, and Plummer continued to devastate the Hoosiers’ defense. Sophomore running back Maurice Turner capped off a 13-play, 78-yard drive with a score from two yards out.
Despite Indiana’s attempts to establish a consistent ground game, Louisville dominated the effort in the trenches. After another Hoosier drive fell flat, the Cardinals took over on their own 31-yard line with just over four minutes to go in the half.
Another chunk completion from Plummer to Thrash allowed Louisville to creep into Indiana’s territory, and junior running back Jawhar Jordan found paydirt via a 25-yard scamper to put the Cardinals up 21-0.
Reeling going into the half, the Hoosiers appeared to enter the third quarter rejuvenated. Indiana successfully recovered an onside kick, setting up Jackson and the offense with excellent field position.
Lucas kicked off the drive with a 21-yard reception, and just two plays later, Jackson found Lucas wide open for a 30-yard touchdown grab. Indiana’s scoring drive took just three plays and traveled 54 yards in a little over a minute.
Faced with a 3rd and 4 from Indiana’s 45-yard line, Plummer lofted an ill-advised throw into double coverage, and sophomore defensive back Phillip Dunnam came away with an interception near the goal line.
Backed deep into their own territory, the Hoosiers charged for perhaps their best offensive drive of the day. Jackson displayed his pocket presence and touch on a 22-yard play to senior receiver Cam Camper and found redshirt senior tight end Bradley Archer for a 24-yard pickup shortly thereafter.
Senior running back Josh Henderson punched in a two-yard touchdown to pull the score to 21-14, capping off Indiana’s methodical 13-play, 97-yard drive.
With the Hoosiers’ defense continuing to make timely stops against Plummer and the Cardinals, Indiana’s offense took over from its own 14-yard line with just over 12 minutes remaining. Louisville forced a quick three-and-out, but Indiana senior linebacker Aaron Casey put a screeching halt to the Cardinals’ chances after dropping sophomore receiver Kevin Coleman Jr. for a loss of eight yards.
Jackson and Indiana quickly marched down the field, using eight plays to travel 89 yards. Yet, with a 4th and 1 at the goal line, Henderson took a handoff up the middle and was stuffed as he tried to leap over the sea of bodies and find the end zone.
On a 3rd and 9 from Louisville’s own 30-yard line, Plummer rolled to his right and scrambled for a 20-yard pickup. With just under two minutes remaining, the Cardinals were able to wind down the clock and complete their 21-14 victory.
Louisville improved to 3-0 with the win, and Indiana dropped to 1-2. The Hoosiers return to Memorial Stadium to take on the University of Akron at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23.