Indiana trounces Penn State in 1st win over Nittany Lions
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It wasn't so much that Penn State was unprepared to deal with the frantic pace at which the Indiana offense operates.
It was just that the Nittany Lions were unable to stop it.
Penn State's defense held off the Hoosiers' potent attack for 21⁄2 quarters before giving way to the tidal wave of the Big Ten's best offense as Indiana beat the Lions for the first time, 44-24, on Saturday.
“We knew exactly what type of team they were,” Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas said. “Nothing was a surprise to us.
“We just didn't execute.”
Particularly during a 11 minutes, 26 seconds span of the second half in which the Hoosiers (3-2, 2-1) scored four touchdowns. Nate Sudfeld passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns, and change-of-pace quarterback Tre Roberson had two rushing touchdowns for Indiana, which is 1-16 all-time against Penn State. Allen Robinson had two touchdown receptions among his career-high 12 catches for 173 yards for the Lions (3-2, 0-1), who lost their conference opener for the 10th time in 14 years.
Indiana's average time of possession on its five touchdown drives was 80.8 seconds.
“We did a good job of simulating their hurry-up in practice; I don't think that was the issue why we lost,” defensive tackle DaQuan Jones said. “It came down to us just executing on defense. And we didn't.”
The Hoosiers entered the game ranked eighth nationally in total offense (547.3 ypg) and 10th in scoring (44.5 ppg). Penn State held the Hoosiers short of those averages — barely. Indiana had 488 total yards.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg had a career-high 340 yards (on a school-record 55 passing attempts) and three touchdowns, but he was playing against the nation's No. 106-ranked defense, and he badly missed on several passes and fumbled in the end zone for a safety during the fourth quarter. The freshman has had consecutive subpar performances after beginning his career with three largely strong games.
“I left a couple plays on the field,” Hackenberg said, “that maybe would have been able to change the outcome or give us a chance at certain points.”
The Lions' lone lead came in the third quarter after Robinson's second touchdown. But it took Indiana 1:23 to answer on a Tevin Coleman 44-yard touchdown run, giving the Hoosiers a 21-14 lead after the Roberson two-point conversion run. It opened the floodgates as Indiana outscored Penn State, 29-3, to put the game away.
Penn State had some life when Glenn Carson tipped a Sudfeld pass that Adrian Amos intercepted with 6:06 left in the third. Robinson almost pulled the Lions back into a tie when he leaped for a Hackenberg pass and caught it along the back line of the end zone on the far side nine plays later.
But Robinson's lower back violently landed out of bounds before he could get a foot down in play, resulting in an incompletion and leaving Robinson writhing in pain. He lay on the field for several minutes and was attended to by training personnel before walking off on his own power.
Robinson returned to the game, but the Lions were out of it before long. After Penn State had a field goal blocked and another thwarted by a bad snap in the first half, Sam Ficken's 30-yard field goal made it 21-17 late in the third.
But the Hoosiers had three touchdowns in a span of 3:50 early in the fourth to take control. Their 23 fourth-quarter points are their most since Sept. 15, 1990, against Kentucky.
After limiting Indiana to 24 yards over its first two drives, Penn State's defense got a taste of what it'd been bracing for — the Hoosiers went 66 yards in four plays covering 44 seconds in taking a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Indiana quickly answered — within less than three minutes each time — Penn State's first two touchdowns with a TD of its own.
“Coach didn't want us to focus on the history of this game and always said, ‘This 2013 Indiana team has never lost to this 2013 Penn State team and vice versa,' ” Sudfeld said. “It was us vs. them this week ... We had a good mindset and game plan coming in.”
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
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