IU quarterback Richard Lagow threw five interceptions and Wake Forest QB John Wolford accounted for three total touchdowns to lead the undefeated Demon Deacons to a 33-28 victory on the road Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.
How it Happened
The Hoosiers (2-1) started the game with a huge bang. After receiving the opening kickoff, IU dialed up a pass play on the first snap from scrimmage and Lagow executed to perfection. The junior QB stepped up in the pocket and hit wideout Nick Westbrook in a tight window on crossing pattern 20 yards downfield. Once Westbrook had the ball he shrugged off a tackle and had nothing but green in front of him, eventually sprinting 75 yards for an Indiana touchdown just 13 seconds into the game. Griffin Oakes' extra point made it 7-0 Indiana.
After the defense forced a WFU punt in its first series, the offense took over again and took a more methodical approach than its first possession. Similar to the first drive, however, most of the damage was done through the air. A 14-yard connection from Lagow to receiver Mitchell Paige set IU up at the Demon Deacon 8-yard line and Indiana seemed to be on the verge of stretching its lead. Three plays later, however, Lagow threw high in the direction of Luke Timian and the ball sailed into the hands of Wake Forest freshman Jessie Bates, who returned it all the way to the Deacon 39. It was the IU quarterback's first INT of the season.
The Wake Forest (4-0) offense took advantage of IU's miscue, immediately beginning to move the ball. The Deacons converted one fourth down in Indiana territory and then later in the drive had a first down at the Indiana 4. On that play, WFU quarterback John Wolford kept the ball on the read-option and waltzed untouched into the end zone because IU had sold out to stop running back Matt Colburn. The extra point following Wolford's second rushing TD of the season evened the score at 7 with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
The two teams traded punts, taking the game into the second quarter, before Indiana began moving the ball again. A pair of 20-plus-yard passes from Lagow to wideout Ricky Jones Jr. moved the ball into WFU territory but once again IU squandered a good scoring chance when running back Tyler Natee was stuffed for no gain on a 4th-and-1 from the Demon Deacon 26.
This time IU's defense stepped up and forced a Wake Forest punt after the turnover but when it got the ball back disaster struck. On a 3rd-and-4 from his own 47, Lagow dropped back and looked for Westbrook on a slant. In nearly a carbon copy of the first interception, the ball was high and ticked off Westbrook's hands, floating through the air before WFU's Bates, an Indiana native, grabbed his second pick of the game. This time no one would stop him and he took the ball all the way back for a touchdown to vault the Deacons in front 14-7 with 9:35 left in the first half. It was the first TD of his college career.
The situation didn't improve for Lagow on IU's next drive. On a first down from the IU 47, Lagow took a deep drop and looked to throw long but he was hit as he threw and the ball was badly underthrown. This time the waiting Demon Deacon was senior DB Brad Watson and he caught Lagow's third pick of the afternoon. It was the IU signal-caller's third interception in 14 attempts for the game after having none in 60 throws over the first two games.
Once again, however, the revamped Indiana defense was up to the task, forcing a third straight Wake 3-and-out and giving the offense another chance as the first half wound down. This time the offense began moving the ball, as catches for 14 and 20 yards for Westbrook advanced the ball into Wake territory. Later in the drive, running back Cole Gest broke off a 15-yard run, Indiana's longest of the day, but once again the Hoosiers let an opportunity for points go by the board. A holding penalty brought back a big play for Paige and forced a 36-yard field goal attempt for Oakes. WFU's Watson blocked the kick and Wake took over with under three minutes to play in the first half.
Before the half ended the Demon Deacons made one last push down the field. Colburn got the drive going with a 23-yard scamper up the middle to midfield and then two plays later Wolford looked deep and lofted a perfect throw to wideout Chuck Wade in the back of the end zone for a 26-yard score and a 21-7 Demon Deacon advantage going into the locker room at halftime.
After his rough first half, Lagow's second half didn't start much better. The IU QB was intercepted for a fourth time when he threw into double coverage over the middle from his own 37. This time it was linebacker Grant Dawson who stepped in front of the throw, giving Wake the ball back in Indiana territory barely two minutes into the third quarter.
IU's defense once again stiffened following an offensive miscue, forcing Wake Forest into a 46-yard field goal attempt. The kick from Mike Weaver was good, though, stretching the Demon Deacon lead to 24-7 with 11:12 left in the third.
When the Hoosiers got the ball back, the offense finally got on the board again for the first time since the game's first play. Like the first scoring drive, this one took less than a minute. On the first play of the possession, Lagow looked deep and found Jones Jr. streaking down the left sideline behind the corner covering him. The wideout pulled the throw in and sprinted for a 65-yard gain down to the Wake 10 and on the very next play Lagow found Westbrook on a fade in the corner of the end zone for the receiver's second TD of the day. Oakes' extra point pulled Indiana within 24-14 after a 33-second drive.
The teams traded punts until late in the third quarter when WFU began moving the ball. Wolford completed a deep jump ball down the right sideline to wideout Tabari Hines for 33 yards to move the ball into IU territory and three plays later, on 3rd-and-7, the quarterback made a tremendous play, shoveling the ball to Colburn as he was about to be sacked. The running back took the pitch and sprinted 10 yards for a first down to the Indiana 20, setting up another Weaver field goal later in the drive to make it 27-14 with 2:22 to go in the quarter.
Before the third quarter ended, however, IU mounted one more drive. Continuing his resurgent day, Jones Jr. beat his defender down the left sideline again and Lagow found him with a perfectly thrown pass for a 50-yard gain to the Wake 9-yard line. Running back Mike Majette ran for 8 yards on the following play and then Natee finished the possession with a bruising 1-yard score on a direct snap. It was the first touchdown of the freshman's IU career and the extra point cut the Hoosiers' deficit to 27-21 at the end of the third stanza.
With IU in striking distance, the defense struggled on the ensuing Wake Forest possession. Four IU penalties, including two personal foul facemasks, resulted in 45 yards of free real estate for the Demon Deacons and allowed them to move down the field despite no big plays. On second-and-goal, Wolford dropped and back and found no one open so he scrambled and found some open field, dancing into the end zone for a 11-yard score. A two-point conversion try was no good but WFU had extended its lead to 33-21 with fewer than 10 minutes left.
Things went from bad to worse on IU's next drive. On 2nd-and-10 from his own 21, Lagow looked for Jones Jr. over the middle but led him too far and Wake Forest safety Ryan Janvion corralled the ball just above the turf near midfield for Lagow's fifth interception on the afternoon. Wake Forest couldn't move the ball after the turnover but the Deacons special teams downed a punt at the IU 6, giving the Hoosiers a long field with only eight minutes to go.
The teams traded possessions as the minutes ticked away in the final quarter. Indiana got the ball in a desperate situation at its own 28 with 6:34 to play. A 21-yard catch and run from Jones Jr. moved the ball to the Wake 27 and pushed the receiver over 200 yards on the day but on a 4th-and-11, Lagow's pass intended for Westbrook was knocked down to seal a Wake Forest win.
A hail Mary pass from Lagow, tipped at the goal line, landed in the hands of Donovan Hale for an Indiana touchdown with 12 seconds left to complete the scoring.
Player of the Game-DB Jessie Bates
The Snider (Fort Wayne) High School alumnus had a tremendous homecoming, staking the Demon Deacons to a road victory with a team-leading eight tackles and a pair of interceptions, the first two of his college career. Both interceptions came at turning points in the game, proving too much for Indiana to overcome.
This was the first game between the two teams in Bloomington, second overall in the series...IU was without All-American offensive lineman Dan Feeney, who missed the game while battling concussion-like symptoms...IU entered the game sixth in the country with a +5 turnover margin but was -5 on this day...Wake entered the game averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground this season and rolled up 181 against Indiana...IU running back Devine Redding, who had gone over 100 yards rushing in five straight games was mostly stymied against Wake, carrying 16 times for 68 yards...The Demon Deacons had allowed just 12.7 points per game, good for 11th in the country, entering the game...Jones Jr. gained over 200 yards through the air with a career-high 208, his fourth career 100-yard effort and first of the season (had 18 receiving yards combined first two games); Westbrook caught six passes for 129 yards to go along with his two touchdowns...Lagow threw for a career-high 496 yards, his first career 400-yard effort
The Hoosiers are back in action next Saturday at Memorial Stadium for their Big Ten opener against the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten). The game will kick off at 8 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Spartans will be coming off a 30-6 shellacking at the hands of Wisconsin. Indiana fell to MSU 52-26 in East Lansing, Michigan last season.