A heartwarming story came to a hard-to-swallow end Monday night in Tempe, Ariz.
Indiana football's first bowl trip in 14 years ended in less-than-memorable fashion, losing to Oklahoma State 49-33 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Indiana ended its season 7-6, missing out an opportunity for its first victory since 1991.
While a trio of second-half Hoosier scores made the final score more respectable, Indiana was man-handled by an Oklahoma State team that piled up 513 yards of total offense and scored on its first five possessions of the first half.
That landed the Hoosiers in a 35-10 halftime lead, and they never threatened again.
"The game didn't start the way we wanted," IU Coach Bill Lynch said. "The worst thing that could have happened took place (early)…the game got away from us."
After Indiana jumped to a 3-0 lead after a 43-yard Austin Starr field goal, Oklahoma State took control. Dantrell Savage answered Starr's field goal with a 3-yard touchdown run two minutes later, capping a six-play, 67-minute drive, to put Oklahoma State up 7-3.
Cowboy quarterback Zac Robinson then took over, having a hand in OSU's next four scores in the first half. Robinson had scoring strikes of 24 and 14 yards, and added touchdown runs of seven and one-yard to give OSU a commanding lead.
Indiana never did find a way to contain Robinson, who competed 24-of-34 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 15 carries for 70 yards and the two scores.
"They're a good team, and we knew it," Lynch said. "Offensively, they're as good as we've played. They have great balance and they really executed."
While Oklahoma State's offense flourished, Indiana floundered on offense in the first half and in both halves on defense.
Offensively, the Hoosiers had little success getting the ball to James Hardy, who finished the game with just five catches for 50 yards. Kellen Lewis completed 22-of-43 passes for 204 yards and also ran for 83 yards on 10 carries, but it was far from enough to keep up with Oklahoma State's high-powered attack.
Defensively, Indiana was victimized by an OSU offense that piled up 211 yards on the ground and 302 yards through the air. In addition to Robinson's big night, OSU tailback Dantrell Savage added 23 carries for 100 yards and a score while wideout Dez Bryant led the Cowboy receivers with nine catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
The Hoosiers did generate some offensive highlights in the second half, with Lewis and Josiah Sears scoring on short runs, and James Bailey scoring on a 30-yard strike from Lewis in the closing minute for the game's final tally. But it was too little and much too late for Indiana to keep up with its Big 12 foe.
"We challenged them at half to go out and compete, and they did that," Lynch said. "We didn't play perfect in the second half, but we competed."
Hoosiers Can't Keep Up With Cowboys, 49-33
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