Bloomington, Ind. – It may only be five games into the season but Indiana quarterback Blake Powers has already put himself and his favorite target James Hardy in the record books.
Powers connected with Hardy in the fourth quarter on an eight-yard touchdown pass that broke two records. As just a sophomore, Powers set the single-season passing touchdown record with 18 touchdowns and Hardy's touchdown was his second of the day and his seventh on the season, a record for an Indiana freshman.
"I don't think there's a defining moment when you have a young quarterback," said Indiana Head Coach Terry Hoeppner. "There are games, like the Kentucky game, and you need to be able to back that up. Well, Blake Powers backed it up today."
It was not just Hoeppner that was impressed by the win Powers directed. If Powers has a biggest fan, it may just be Hardy himself.
"I told him even before we went out on that drive that he was going to get the record on that drive," said Hardy. "He said to me afterwards, ‘This is because of you' and I told him, ‘No, you did this.' Nobody can steal his glory. He works very hard at what he does and now his accomplishments are starting to come and I'm happy for him."
The record Powers broke was set by Antwaan Randle El, who threw 17 touchdown passes in 1999 – in 11 games. Powers sits at 18 career touchdown passes, which is just 24 off the Indiana career mark of 42.
"We have great receivers who make great catches," said Powers. "We have an offense that likes to throw the ball. To be perfectly honest the record doesn't mean too much because I'm not worried about any personal statistic. I'm more worried about winning games as a team."
Powers finished the day with four touchdowns against the Illini after hooking up with redshirt freshman Marcus Thigpen for an 18-yard score and one-yard score to sophomore tight end Nick Sexton. Powers was 22-of-35 for 198 yards and one interception to go along with the four touchdowns.
"Blake does a great job of leading our team," said Hoeppner. "He gives us all confidence because we know given the chance Blake is going to make a play."
Powers and Hardy may not be done with their assault on the Indiana record book. With seven touchdowns, Hardy is more than halfway to the single season record of 13 touchdown receptions held by Ernie Jones, who set the mark in 1987, a season where he was named as the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player by the league's media members. Hardy already has 34 catches on the season, 32 short of the all-time record of 66 passes caught in one season, also set by Jones in 1987. Hardy now has at least one touchdown in every game after catching 10 passes for 118 yards and the two scores.
"I won't say it's getting too easy," said Hardy. "He knows what I'm going to do and I know when he's going to throw it. I'm just trying to get there. They were great defenders and they did their best."
Powers, Hardy Connect for Record Day
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