BLOOMINGTON — A high-flying first half guided the Indiana football team to its 30-20 win over Ball State on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. The Hoosiers (2-0) forced three takeaways, including two fumble recoveries by Jonathan Crawford to hold BSU (1-1) scoreless in the opening half.
IU”s first two takeaways came by way of linebackers Marcus Oliver and Tegray Scales who jarred the ball loose on Crawford’s recoveries. Marcelino Ball earned his first career pick to round out the Hoosiers’ trio of takeaways.
Richard Lagow amassed an efficient performance in his second start for Indiana, going 17-for-27 with 266 yards and three touchdowns. Half of Lagow’s passing yards landed in the hands of Nick Westbrook, who hauled in three catches for 133 yards and two trips to the end zone. Mitchell Paige took the bulk of the receptions with six catches for 76 yards.
“He was good,” Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson said of Lagow. “I had a couple calls — protection’s got to clean up. We didn’t do a good job protecting for him. He did a nice job getting the field, and we’ve got to get it out of his hand.
“We’ve got some protections and some things that broke down, and we’ve got to clean that up. He’s got a good look about him. He’s what, 17 of 20 or so, stats are stat, but he’s 2-0. That’s a good quarterback. Got to get better.”
Devin Redding toted the rock for 110 yards on 26 carries, his fifth consecutive game with 100-plus yards. Redding’s streak of consecutive 100-yard games is tied for the longest active streak in the FBS.
The Hoosiers defense made quick work of Ball State’s opening drive with their fourth takeaway of the season. Oliver forced a fumble on Corey Lacanaria’s reception, and Crawford scooped the loose ball just before it rolled out of play at the Cardinals 26-yard line. On Indiana’s ensuing drive, Griffin Oakes split the uprights on a 29-yard field goal to give IU a 3-0 lead.
Indiana found the end zone on their next trip down the field, which ended on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Lagow to Westbrook. Lagow called Westbrook’s number on his delivery towards the goal line, and Westbrook captured the ball as he fell into the end zone.
Crawford and the big-play defense struck again midway through the first quarter, just as Ball State set their sights on the end zone. The Cardinals’ James Gilbert met Scales as he took his handoff up the middle. Scales punched the ball loose, and Crawford snagged his second fumble recovery of the quarter.
Mike Majette sparked an 86-yard, 1:49 drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Lagow to Luke Timian. Majette took the handoff to the left side, spun out of a tackle attempt and took the ball down the sideline for a 48-yard gain. Also aiding on the drive was Paige, who took a quick screen 21 yards to Ball State’s 10-yard line.
Ball notched Indiana’s third takeaway of the half, and its sixth in six quarters, with a downfield interception near the end of the second quarter. Ball pursued a 40-yard pass attempt from Riley Neal and seized his chance on his way to the ground at Indiana’s 35-yard line. That takeaway resulted in Oakes’ 49-yard field goal as time expired, giving Indiana a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Indiana’s offense launched into the third quarter with a two-play, 81-yard scoring drive on its first possession. Lagow darted a pass to Westbrook on the right sideline, and Westbrook followed Danny Friend’s block into the open field for his second touchdown of the game.
Oakes extended the Hoosiers’ lead to 30-0 after capping a 38-yard drive with a 41-yard field goal. The make was Oakes’ third of the game in as many attempts. IU conceded Ball State’s first points of the game when the Cardinals converted a 22-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter.
The Cardinals returned a blocked punt for their first touchdown with just under 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Ball State cut the Hoosiers’ lead to 10 points with a 5-yard touchdown pass in the final four minutes of the game. The Indiana defense shut down the Cardinals’ final possession to seal the 30-20 win.
“There are no moral victories, but I am proud of the way our guys competed and fought in the second half,” Ball State coach Mike Neu said. “We need to learn from this, make corrections off the tape tomorrow and get back to work.”
The Cardinals had won the previous three meetings with Indiana, dating back to 2008. The teams will meet again three times in the near future– 2018 and 2020 in Bloomington and 2019 in Indianapolis.
The Hoosiers will benefit from two weeks of preparation for their meeting versus the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0) on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Memorial Stadium. Last season, Indiana triumphed in a hard-fought 31-24 contest at Wake Forest. The game’s kickoff time remains to be determined. Ball State will play its first home game on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky. Kick is scheduled for 3 p.m.