Saturday afternoon was supposed to be a great warm-up game for the Oregon Ducks. They were supposed to work out all their kinks and get ready for a tough match-up against Oklahoma next week. For Indiana, the main goal was playing well and trying to stay in the game. From the opening kickoff however, it was very obvious that Oregon was going to have a lot of rust to shake off to beat the lowly Hoosiers, and that the Hoosiers still had something to prove.
The Ducks kick returner Kenny Washington returned the opening kickoff for Oregon 100 yards for the score, but then the mistakes set in. The runback was called back on a penalty, and the Ducks started over. But the mistakes continued, as junior quarterback Kellen Clemens fumbled the ball, and JUCO transfer Paul Szczesny picked up the fumble to give Indiana the ball within field goal range. The Hoosier's Bryan Robertson hit that field goal after the Indiana offense only moved the ball three yards.
After exchanging possessions a few times, Tyson Beatie punted the ball to the Ducks, but the catch was fumbled and Buster Larkins came up with the ball for the Hoosiers. Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis would scamper into the end zone on a 19 yard run to put the Hoosiers ahead 10-0 with over seven minutes left in the first quarter. Five minutes later, the Hoosiers would do it again as Kyle Killion recovered the fumbled punt and Matt LoVechio hooked up with Courtney Roby for the score. The Hoosiers would add a pair of field goals to finish out the half leading 23-0.
The shutout pitched in the first half was the first time for the defense since the Mud Bowl against Purdue in 2001. The 23 point lead in the first half was the largest on the road for Indiana since upsetting Wisconsin at Camp Randle in 2001. This was the first time in seven years that Oregon had gone the whole first half without scoring a single point. The Hoosiers didn't play the best half of football statistically speaking, but they took advantage of 4 first half turnovers to shock the sellout crowd at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon came out in the second half with more of the same, as Clemens was intercepted on Oregon's first drive in the second. The IU offense could do nothing with the ball though, and on the ensuing Duck possession, Clemens orchestrated a four play, 60 yard touchdown drive. The Indiana offense sputtered again and was forced to punt. Oregon got a field goal to move the score to 23-10.
On the following kickoff however, Indiana made sure that the crowd knew that they were not giving up. Lance Bennett took the kickoff and returned it 98 yards for the touchdown. Bennett has been very good for the Hoosiers so far in 2004 after off-season knee surgery. Clemens would throw another pair of touchdowns to cut the lead to 30-24 in favor of the Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers played a sloppy fourth quarter on offense, giving the ball up on downs and fumbling it, but a missed field goal kept the score at 30-24 with four minutes to go. In the final four minutes, Hoosier defensemen Kyle Killion and Herana-Daze Jones would intercept Clemens to ensure the Hoosier victory by a final of 30-24. It was the Hoosiers first upset of a ranked opponent on the road since the Michigan State game in 2001.
The offense was not the star for the Hoosiers, although running back Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis did manage to amass 91 yards against a defense that ranked 10th against the rush in 2003. Matt LoVechio added 70 yards through the air on 6 of 18 passing with a touchdown to Roby. LoVechio added another 50 yards with his feet, and did just enough to lead the Hoosiers to victory. Courtney Roby was the leading Hoosier receiver with 4 catches for 60 yards total.
The true heroes for Indiana were on the defense. Buster Larkins lead all Hoosiers with 10 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception on the game. Kyle Killion and Herana-Daze Jones each had similar days, with 9 tackles apiece, both picking a ball off and both recovering a fumble. Killion also added a sack for the Hoosiers. Paul Szczesny added another nine tackles for the Hoosiers including the first fumble recovery of the game. Ben Ishola added a pair of sacks for Indiana, who got good pressure on the quarterback all day long, creating havoc and forcing the turnovers.
The Hoosiers were significantly out gained with total yards being 495-198 in favor of the Ducks, but the seven turnovers allowed the Hoosiers to overcome an inept offense. The Ducks were also penalized 9 times for 85 yards. Despite a very inefficient 3rd down conversion stat of 3 of 17, Indiana was very effective inside the redzone, going 4-4 in redzone scoring; taking advantage of every chance they were given.
Indiana did what it took to find a way to win the game, and will take that attitude with them to Kentucky next Saturday in Lexington. The Cats had an off weak after being shutout 28-0 in Louisville. The Hoosiers are looking to go 3-0 entering Big Ten play with a great boost of momentum. Indiana will have to forget about this victory quickly however, and prepare for a young Kentucky team. The worst thing for Indiana at this point could be celebrating too much and not concentrating on their next opponent. But for now dust that IU flag off and hang it outside, this is a proud week to be a Hoosier, and remember for sequined bowling shoes? They look even more tempting every day.
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