BLOOMINGTON – They say the scoreboard doesn't lie, so the Indiana offense emerged with a 36-34 victory over the Hoosier defense in Saturday's Cream and Crimson scrimmage, which wrapped up IU's spring practice drills.
But the final score wasn't without controversy. When the clock hit zero on the fifth and final period, the defense led 34-33 and seemingly had the win. But IU Coach Bill Lynch added one overtime play to the scrimmage, and Ben Chappell threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Collin Taylor to give the offense three more points and the "win", according to the scoreboard.
"We came over here and huddled up, and they said if we score we win, if we don't we lose," said Taylor, who finished with five catches for 72 yards and the score. "It felt good to get in there and have the whole offense come over and celebrate as a team. It was definitely a good offensive victory."
The Hoosier defenders, though, aren't as willing to concede defeat in a scrimmage that used a modified scoring system that rewarded the offense for first downs, touchdowns and big plays, and the defense for three-and-outs, takeaways and passes broken up.
"We're not worried about it – we know we won the game," joked Jammie Kirlew, who had a pair of sacks and five tackles.
While the scoreboard said it was the offense that came out on top, it was clearly the defense that had the better afternoon on a cool, rainy afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Several hundred die-hard Hoosier fans watched the defense keep the offense from scoring any touchdowns in the first three 15-minute periods. While Trea Burgess, Zach Walker and Bryan Payton would all score on short touchdown runs later in the afternoon to help the offense close the gap on the scoreboard, those scores all came when the offense was working with a short field.
While the offense struggled to put together sustained drives, the defense had a series of big plays. The defense came away with four interceptions in all, two sacks, and 11 of the offense's 21 drives ended in either three-and-outs or interceptions.
Donnell Jones, Richard Council, Joe Kleinsmith and Chris Phillips all had picks and largely held the Hoosier quarterbacks in check.
"I think we played really good," said Jones, who is battling for a starting spot at cornerback. "From the linemen to the linebackers to the safeties and corners, everyone put up a good effort today."
Lynch was pleased with the play of the cornerbacks, which was a positive sign since it's a position where IU must replace a pair of starters from a year ago.
"I thought our corners really played well," Lynch said. "Going into the spring a lot of people were concerned what are you going to do at corner with Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors leaving, and we felt the young guys were going to be good players, and I think they showed it today."
Quarterback Ben Chappell, who has been running the No. 1 offense all spring following the suspension of Kellen Lewis, completed 24-of-38 passes for 169 yards and the one touchdown. But he had only one pass play of 25 yards or more, with that coming on a 34-yard strike to Taylor down the sideline early on.
Second-string quarterback Mitchell Evans, meanwhile, completed 13-of-19 passes for 79 yards and was picked off twice.
"I think we did alright," said Chappell. "I think we did well with the tempo, and I thought we were able to run pretty well."
Bryan Payton got the majority of the carries with the No. 1 offense and finished with 12 carries for 35 yards. Trea Burgess led the running backs with 11 carries for 47 yards, while Walker added nine carries for 37 yards.
Matt Ernest (7 catches, 59 yards) and Brandon Walker-Roby (7 catches, 29 yards) were the top two pass catchers, while Taylor, Chris Banks (4 catches, 33 yards) and Max Dedmond (4 catches, 30 yards) also had their moments.
One thing hurting the offense was the absence of some key personnel. A handful of offensive linemen have been out all spring after off-season surgery, including likely starters Mike Stark and Pete Saxon. Last year's starting tailback, Marcus Thigpen, has been spending most of the spring with the track team and was again absent Saturday, and top pass catchers Ray Fisher (hip flexor) and Andrew Means (playing baseball) were also absent.
"I thought the defense played great the whole day, and they should because that's where the experience is on this football team," said Lynch.
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