Hoosiers' Rally Comes Up Short

Bloomington – Out-played by Wisconsin for three quarters, Indiana found itself trailing by only 10, 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. After playing into a 25-mile per hour wind in the third quarter, Ben Chappell and the IU offense had the steady southwest gale at its back for the game's final 15 minutes...

Bloomington – Out-played by Wisconsin for three quarters, Indiana found itself trailing by only 10, 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. After playing into a 25-mile per hour wind in the third quarter, Ben Chappell and the IU offense had the steady southwest gale at its back for the game's final 15 minutes.

Sound familiar?

A week earlier, No. 4 Iowa found itself in a similar predicament and doused the Hoosiers' upset bid with 28 fourth-quarter points to win 42-24.

Spurred by a 25-of-35, 323-yard effort by Chappell Indiana mounted its own comeback Saturday against No. 24 Wisconsin, but ultimately came up short and suffered its third straight heartbreaking loss with a 31-28 setback to the Badgers.

Indiana dropped to 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten and now finds itself teetering on the edge of bowl ineligibility, needing to win their final two regular season games. Wisconsin, meanwhile, improved to 7-2 and 4-2 in conference play.

The Hoosiers upset bid came down to one pivotal play. Faced with a 3rd-and-8 with 2:35 remaining, Badger quarterback Scott Tolzien completed a 17-yard strike to Nick Toon to move the chains and squash Indiana's rally. The Badgers proceeded to run out the clock to send 36,661 Hoosier fans home disappointed.

"We needed to get one stop there to give ourselves another chance," IU Coach Bill Lynch said.

The unsuccessful defensive stop was just the last failed effort by an Indiana defense that gave up 488 yards of offense to the Badgers, including 294 on the ground. Starting tailback John Clay ran for 134 yards on 15 carries in the first half, and when an injury sidelined him for the game's final 30 minutes, back-up Montee Ball filled in and ran for 115 yards on 27 carries.

Wisconsin didn't approach the 441 rushing yards that it piled up on IU a year ago, but it did nearly eclipse the 300-yard mark, it converted 11-of-17 third downs, and it controlled the ball for 34 minutes.

"They're awful good (offensively)…we tried stunting, we tried blitzing, playing base, all those things," Lynch said. "Then you have to tackle them. Sometimes you tackle them and they fall three yards forward to get a first down."

The only thing that seemed to slow the Badgers was themselves. The Hoosiers showed no signs of being able to slow the Badger ground game, yet Wisconsin opted to throw on a couple of 3rd and shorts in the third quarter that fell incomplete. That kept the Badger lead at 10, 24-14, heading into the final quarter, and Indiana mounted its rally.

Chappell capped a 11-play, 81-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown strike to Terrance Turner to cut the lead to three, 24-21, three minutes into the quarter. Mitchell Evans made a 27-yard, acrobatic catch on a 3rd-and-10 and Damarlo Belcher dragged a couple of Wisconsin defenders for 30 yards on a 4th-and-5 to keep the drive going along the way.

Wisconsin quickly answered. Keyed by a 44-yard pass from Tolzien to Toon that moved the ball to the Indiana 11, Ball plowed his way in from three yards out to put the Badgers back up 10.

But Indiana responded. With Darius Willis sidelined with a right leg injury, Bryan Payton filled in and ran for 8 yards and then 10 more. Chappell then hooked up with Belcher for a 20-yard gain and then a 21-yard strike to Matt Ernest to move the ball to the Wisconsin 7. The Hoosiers inched the ball down to the Badger two before Trea Burgess plunged in from two yards out on a 4th and goal to cut the lead to three, 31-28, with 4:01 left.

With a full complement of timeouts, the Hoosiers opted to kick deep on the ensuing kickoff, and Bill Lynch's offense would never get the ball back.

Ball ran for 10 yards on the first play for a first down, and then ran for four more to set up a 2nd and 6. IU's Will Patterson burst through the line to drop Ball for a two-yard loss on the next play, prompting IU to call a timeout before the 3rd and 8 play.

But Indiana couldn't come up with the stop it needed. The Hoosiers came with an all out blitz, but Tolzien found open along the sidelines and in front of Donnell Jones for the game-deciding 17-yard gain. Two more Ball runs moved the chains again, and Indiana was forced to watch its upset bid tick away.

"We tried to come after them," Lynch said. "We played to win, so we blitzed them and they picked it up and they got the kid one-on-one on the outside.

"Not to say we would have won the game, but it would have been nice to get the ball back and see if we could have."

That didn't happen, and Indiana's players were left to stew about another narrow loss.

"They're hurting because they care.," Lynch said. "They put a lot into it. They'll bounce back. We're going to Penn State, a great football venue, and I know our guys will be excited. We've still got a shot. We'll keep fighting."

RUSHING
Wisconsin – Clay 15-134, Ball 27-115, Brown 4-18, Tolzen 4-12, Toon 1-9, Gilreath 1-6. Totals 52-294. Indiana – Payton 8-48, Burgess 4-7, McCray 1-7, Willis 6-6, Chappell 4-0, Evans 3-(-5). Totals 26-63.

PASSING
Wisconsin – Tolzien 20-11-0 194. Indiana – Chappell 35-25-2 323.

RECEIVING
Wisconsin Toon 5-123, Anderson 3-43, Ball 1-11, Clay 1-10, Kendricks 1-7. Totals 11-194. Indiana – Doss 6-92, Turner 6-68, Belcher 5-83, Evans 3-32, Willis 2-12, Ernest 1-21, Wagner 1-13, Dedmond 1-2. Totals 25-323.


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