BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A half moon loomed over Memorial Stadium Saturday night. A game that stretched into four overtimes and approached a midnight conclusion ended in a cannon’s thunder, a fireworks display, and a Hoosier victory without celebration.
Indiana (2-2) edged Akron 29-27 and head coach Tom Allen found little pleasure.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s not good enough.”
The defense intercepted three passes and turned one by safety Louis Moore into a touchdown. It also gave up a fourth-quarter 71-yard touchdown run that Allen called, “inexcusable,” and allowed two Zips to rush for more than 100 yards.
The offense struggled with dropped passes, poor throws, and bad blocking. It was 3-for-14 on third downs and 0-for-2 on fourth downs.
“The offense was out of sync and performed poorly,” Allen said. “It was not good enough. Not even close. It was below the standard.
“There’s not a lot to be fired up about that side of ball.”
Added receiver Cam Camper: “It wasn’t what we wanted, but we came out with a win, so you can’t be mad about that. We have to figure out what we need to do better and move on to the next game.”
“As ugly as it was,” Allen said, “our players battled and fought and clawed. We found a way.”
Or, as Moore put it, “We made it out alive.”
Victory came only after Akron (1-3) missed a game-winning 32-yard field goal at the end of regulation.
“We can’t play like that,” Moore said. “Everybody knows it. We learned our lesson.”
Allen saw trouble during Thursday’s practice and called out the team.
“I had to remind them in an emotional way about who this team is,” he said. “I did not like how we practiced. There was a lack of understanding about who we were playing and how hard they play. It was mind blowing to think that. I did not effectively get their attention.”
The result — look for personnel changes when IU plays at Maryland (4-0) next Saturday.
“It’s a matter of addressing it and making whatever changes are necessary to get us playing right out of the gate at a high level,” Allen said.
Change will start in practice, Moore said.
“If there’s a problem, call your teammates out. Don’t take it personal. I’d rather it happen in practice than on game day. Open your mouth. Say something.”
Moore intercepted two passes, but it was his second that was the biggest. IU trailed 10-7 in the third quarter when Moore picked off a deflected pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown and a four-point Hoosier lead.
“The ball tipped off the receiver’s hands,” Moore said. “I got it and took it to the house. After that I was like, we (the defense) have to win the game. It’s on us.”
Safety Phillip Dunnam added an interception.
An injury sidelined IU running back Josh Henderson. Christian Turner capitalized with 67 rushing yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Tayven Jackson completed 11-for-26 for 190 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
“Our young quarterback had a tough night,” Allen said. “It wasn’t his best. We have to do some things to help him. We didn’t do a good job of protecting him.
“We had open receivers we didn’t hit. We had three critical drops. It was a lack of focus. We were not able to execute.”
Akron quarterback DJ Irons rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for 194 yards. Running back Lorenzo Linguard rushed for 113 yards.
“They were shifty guys taking advantage of our defense,” said linebacker Aaron Casey, who had a team-leading 13 tackles. “We’ll get that cleaned up.”
A scoreless first quarter ended with Akron having the edge in total yards (106 to 83) and first downs (6 to 4).
IU found its offensive rhythm early in the second quarter. A 12-yard Turner run was followed by Jackson passes of 40 and 20 yards to Camper and tight end Trey Walker. Turner ended the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 IU lead five minutes into the quarter.
Moore’s interception and 27-yard return gave IU the ball at the Akron 4-yard line. The Hoosiers tried two Turner and two Donavan McCulley runs to get in the end zone and came up short.
On the next play, Akron receiver Alex Adams dropped what likely would have been a 99-yard TD pass. The Zips eventually punted.
Jackson’s interception led to an Akron field goal and a 7-3 halftime score.
Akron opened the second half with a touchdown for a 10-7 lead. The Zips successful executed an on-side kick to get the ball right back, but the Hoosiers defense got the stop.
Moore’s second interception produced a touchdown and a 14-10 IU lead. It came off of quarterback Jeff Undercuffler, who entered the game after Irons was banged up on the previous series.
IU added a fourth-quarter, 19-yard Chris Freeman field goal for a 17-10 lead. Akron tied it on Lingard’s 71-yard touchdown run, and had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but Dante Jackson missed a 32-yard field goal attempt.
Akron took a 24-17 lead on Irons’ 10-yard TD run. The Hoosiers tied it on Jackson’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Camper.
In the second overtime period, both teams traded field goals.
In the third overtime, neither team scored.
In the fourth overtime, IU converted its 2-point attempt on a DeQuece Carter pass, then stopped Akron.
“The mood wasn’t the best in the locker room,” Casey said, “but a win is a win. We’re happy we pulled it out.
“We just have to do our jobs. If we do that, we can compete with anybody.”
Now comes a trip to Maryland, which is coming off a 31-9 win at Michigan State.
“We have to play our game and execute,” Moore said. “That’s all it is.”
Courtesy of IUHoosiers.com- used with permission