September 27, 2008

Spartans muscle past Hoosiers, 42-29

In a bizarre game that saw two safeties, interchanging IU quarterbacks and many Hoosier injuries, the Spartans were able to pull out a victory in Bloomington, notching a 42-29 win over Indiana and retaining possession of the Old Brass Spittoon.

While many Hoosier fans thought Javon Ringer was going to be the downfall of the IU defense, in fact it was quarterback Brian Hoyer who led the attack. He finished with a strong game passing, going 14-for-26 for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown to his repertoire.

"(Hoyer) is a very good player," head coach Bill Lynch said. "He played really well against us last year. They are just a very good offensive football team. You have to spend so much time on the running game that you get burned on the outside sometimes."

Going into the game, MSU running back Javon Ringer was the main fear for Lynch and the defense. Ringer was coming off of a 201-yard performance against Notre Dame en route to being named as a third consecutive Big Ten Player of the Week.

However the star-studded back was held in check-- sort of. While he finished the game with 198 rushing yards, he gained those yards on 44 rushing attempts. But Ringer did not break off the big run that Lynch and the Hoosier defense was worried about. In fact, his only score was a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, as he was held under 100 yard until the 1:10 mark left in the third quarter.

But despite giving up 497 yards of total offense to the Spartans, the Hoosiers were in the game until a freak occurrence that happened with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter.

With Indiana facing a first and ten on their own one-yard line, Chappell handed the ball off to running back Bryan Payton, who appeared to fail in his attempt to get out of the endzone. However, after a review, the ball did break the plane and the Hoosiers were granted another chance to avoid a safety. Two plays later, Chappell hit wide receiver Terrance Turner for a 97-yard touchdown pass that would have given Indiana a 35-34 lead.

Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, a yellow penalty flag laid in the endzone. Offensive lineman Cody Faulkner was called with holding two yards deep in the endzone, which resulted in a safety for the Spartans.

"I've never seen that play before and I have been around football for a long time," Lynch said. "We have a 98-yard touchdown pass called back for a loss of two. I've never seen that before."

Faulkner's penalty was one of many for the Hoosiers on the afternoon. After not being flagged for a single miscue in the week one win over Murray State, Indiana was called for nine penalties for a loss of 89 yards, which ultimately killed any momentum the Hoosiers were gathering.

"It is just a lack of discipline," running back Marcus Thigpen said, who finished the game with 113 yards on nine carries. "They were just dumb penalties that we shouldn't have committed."

Aside from inopportune penalties, the offense seemed to strive today under the two quarterback set. Lewis started the game, but in the Hoosiers' second series, Chappell came in and split time with the junior, often flanking Lewis out to the wide receiver slot.

"I worked as a decoy and it was fun," Lewis said. "It always attracts more attention to me and gives the other guys one-on-one opportunities. People see a quarterback at wide receiver and they think it is a trick play, but it was just a normal receiver slot."

One of the reasons Chappell saw so much time at QB was a leg injury to Lewis. After he caught a Chappell pass, Lewis came up lame going back to the huddle. Chappell came back in the lineup and finished out the first half. Lewis eventually made his way back under center in the second series of the second half.

But the quarterback was not the only player injured on the afternoon. Indiana started the game without safeties Austin Thomas and Nick Polk due to injury. Joe Kleinsmith, one of the back-ups, left the game in the first half. Jerimy Finch, who blocked his second punt in as many games for IU's safety, also left the game with a foot injury.

Andrew Means and Tandon Doss, both wide receivers, also did not finish the game due to injury. Still, despite the loss, the Hoosiers seem upbeat about their performance and look ahead to going to Minneapolis next weekend.

"It was a shootout today, but I am proud of how our guys played," Chappell said. "I think we found our team today."

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