Indiana keeps bowl hopes alive with 41-0 win over Rutgers
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Richard Lagow and Indiana’s senior-laden defense weren’t going to let a severe storm wash out their farewell party Saturday.
So they soaked it in and gave the fans who stuck around one of the most memorable moments of their careers.
Lagow threw two touchdown passes and the Hoosiers pitched their first Senior Day shutout since 1958 in a lightning-delayed 41-0 rout over Rutgers.
“Coach (Tom) Allen is always emphasizing finish, finish, finish,” Lagow said. “We were able to do that today, so it feels good.”
Indiana (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) has won two straight to move within one victory of becoming bowl eligible for a school-record tying third straight season.
The way the Hoosiers are playing, it’s certainly plausible.
Over the last two weeks, the defense has 12 sacks, six turnovers and allowed 14 points — the fewest in consecutive conference games since back-to-back shutouts against Northwestern and Michigan State in 1993.
And now the offense is clicking, too.
Lagow was 17 of 28 for 236 yards with one interception in his final home game, connecting with Ian Thomas for a 57-yard score in the first quarter and Luke Timian on a 20-yard TD pass in the third quarter. Thomas had four catches for 93 yards.
Morgan Ellison ran 15 times for 149 yards and two TDs while Cole Gest had 23 carries for 104 yards and another TD.
The only thing that slowed down Indiana’s victory march was the 1-hour, 47-minute lightning delay that forced both teams to the locker room with the Hoosiers leading 34-0 and 2:31 left in the third.
Rutgers (4-7, 3-5) has lost two in a row and has lost by 20 or more points four times this season.
“They whipped us on both sides of the ball and the result is what it is,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “We didn’t play very well and that’s on me.”
The small crowd still inside Memorial Stadium also was told to find shelter and many returned to their cars and headed home. When play resumed only a couple hundred fans returned to their seats and wound up watching more of the same.
Indiana used a 6-yard scoring run from Ellison and the Lagow-to-Thomas score to take a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game and 20-0 at the half.
They padded the lead after Lagow was picked off at the Rutgers 31 in the third quarter but on the next play, Indiana’s Greg Gooch came up with a strip-sack that gave the ball right back to the Hoosiers. Three plays later, Lagow’s pass to Timian made it 27-0 and Ellison followed that with a 1-yard TD plunge with 4:19 left in the third.
Indiana’s defense closed it out.
“It is very fitting for a group of young men who, when I got here, had been struggling and lost their confidence,” coach Tom Allen said, referring to Indiana’s defense. “The guys that were out there today, were really the core of the guys responsible for the turnaround.”
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have achieved plenty in Ash’s second season. They’ve tied the school record for Big Ten wins in a season and are one of six Big Ten teams to follow a winless conference season with four league wins. But this dreadful performance will almost certainly keep Rutgers home for the holidays.
Indiana: A brutal schedule put the Hoosiers’ postseason hopes in serious jeopardy. But dominant performances the last two weeks put them back in contention. And this was easily their most impressive win of the season.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were outgained in total yards 503-186. Quarterback Giovanni Rescigno was 8 of 14 for 67 yards and was sacked four times before being pulled in the third quarter. The Scarlet Knights had three turnovers and were stopped on fourth down from the Indiana 8 in the fourth quarter on their only serious scoring chance.
Indiana: The Hoosiers pitched their second shutout of the season, the first time that has happened since they had three shutouts in 1993. The 41-point victory margin is Indiana’s largest in a Big Ten game since a 42-0 win over Northwestern in 1990.
THEY SAID IT
Rutgers: “We are better than this. We have been better than this. We have played better than this,” Ash said. “We have come too far to play a game like this.”
Indiana: “It’s amazing,” Gest said. “I’m just very happy right now. How am I even playing Big Ten football?”
Rutgers: Returns home next Saturday to face Michigan State.
Indiana: Visits Purdue next Saturday, looking for a school-record fifth consecutive win against their in-state rival.