Indiana’s offense finally started finding the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson knew it was coming at some point.
After three quarters of getting yards but few points, the Hoosiers scored touchdowns on their first two possessions in the fourth quarter leading to their 34-13 victory over Florida International.
Indiana scored 15 points on its first 14 plays of the fourth quarter in the Miami heat and humidity Thursday night to take a 27-13 lead.
The Hoosiers trailed 13-12 after three quarters but outscored FIU 22-0 in the fourth quarter.
The Hoosiers managed just three offensive points on 54 offensive plays through the first three quarters.
“This game had our attention. I’m glad we finished strong, 22 points in the fourth quarter, 22-0. It was a good finish,” Wilson.
“I thought the first half, all the plays we did, the way they were tapping out, the game was over. If we came out in the third quarter and didn’t let them off the hook, they were going to wear down.
“We played a lot of numbers, a lot of guys on defense. Our goal coming into it — I don’t know what it ended up — but we were trying to keep our best defensive player, Marcus Oliver, under 35 plays. … We did the same thing at running back. We had seven running backs carry the ball. The same thing at receiver.”
(SEE ALSO: Video: Kevin Wilson's complete postgame Q&A)
The fourth-quarter offensive surge coupled with some outstanding defense, including pick-6s from Rashard Fant and Tegray Scales, to lead Indiana to its biggest season-opening margin of victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision foe since it beat Central Michigan 41-10 in 2004.
In the fourth quarter, junior college transfer Richard Lagow, making his first major-college start, was 4-for-5 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a touchdown.
Devine Redding rushed for 40 of his 135 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Hoosiers got going immediately in the fourth quarter.
Lagow led a five-play, 74-yard march, capping the drive to start the quarter with a 21-yard catch-and-run to 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end Danny Friend.
Ricky Jones ran for the two-point conversion, and IU led 20-13.
IU’s defense forced a punt, IU took over at its 20, and Redding ran for seven, eight and seven yards on consecutive plays.
Lagow completed passes of 18 and 28 yards on the drive and finished it on a six-yard run, putting the Hoosiers ahead 27-13.
Scales sealed it with his 16-yard interception return for a touchdown, bookending IU’s first touchdown that came on Fant’s 34-yard touchdown return of an interception.
In the first three quarters, Indiana ran 37 plays on the Florida International side of the field, not counting penalties or punts, yet scored just three points.
“They’ve always been a really good bend-but-don’t-break defense,” Wilson said. “You look at their red zone performance. Last year, they were top 10, 11, 15 in the country. You might get some yards, but not some points.
“We went from 20 to 20 or 30 to 30 OK, but we didn’t have a lot to show for it. That’s kind of how they play.
“We’ll have to work on that because our third-down conversions and score-zone conversions and taking care of the ball at quarterback, that’s the difference between a lot of points or leaving the offense on the field and not scoring.”
Redding finished with his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, all of which have come away from home in IU’s past four games, counting the bowl game, dating to last year.
As a team, Indiana rushed for 246, threw for 240 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per play, including 4.7 per rush as seven players ran the ball in the game.
Wilson said he liked Redding’s performance but wasn’t worried about one back’s numbers.
“I was looking more at yards per carry and rushing total and touchdowns and turnovers than what one guy got,” Wilson said.
“It’s a credit to Devine and (running backs) coach (Deland) McCullough. We’re not trying to get him a big year because like we’ve said, six, seven guys are going to carry the rock.”