BLOOMINGTON – Takeaways at crucial moments doomed Indiana (2-1) in its first loss of the season, a 33-28 defeat to the visiting Wake Forest Demon Deacons Saturday afternoon. The Demon Deacons (4-0) forced five turnovers to prevent an otherwise highly efficient IU attack from submitting their comeback attempt.
“It’s disappointing to lose, but we got beat by a team that played very, very well today,” said Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson. “So give a lot of credit to Wake. They came in playing good team ball, and they played better team ball than us today. We lose the turnover battle and some scoring opportunities, had a kicking blunder, field goal blocking—a lot of things that led to us being short on the stick.”
Ricky Jones put together a career performance, tallying career-highs in receptions (8) and yards (208). Jones becomes the sixth receiver in IU football history to tally 200-plus receiving yards in a single game.
Nick Westbrook snowballed from his breakout game two weeks ago versus Ball State with another two-touchdown outing, retrieving six catches for 129 yards. His 75-yard score on Indiana’s first play from scrimmage gave Westbrook his third touchdown in a four-reception span. The sophomore also pulled down a 10-yard fade route midway through the third quarter.
“It hurts to give up a win like this,” said Westbrook. “Offensively, I think we take the blame. We have to be better, we have to execute better when it comes down to the red zone. We cannot have those mental mistakes that shoot ourselves in the foot. We had momentum that entire game. I know it is not a game of stats, but we were going up and down the field defensively. We have to capitalize on the competitive plays. We need to not have mental mistakes.”
Richard Lagow inscribed his name in the Indiana record books, becoming the fifth Hoosiers quarterback with 400-plus passing yards in a single game. Lagow finished with a school record 496 yards and three touchdowns on 28 completions.
Devine Redding led six IU rushers with 68 yards on 16 carries, in addition to his 24 yards on three catches through the air. True freshman Tyler Natee notched the Hoosiers’ only rushing touchdown, the first of his career, on a 1-yard punch in the third quarter.
Tegray Scales disrupted on defense with a career-high-tying two sacks, a career-high 13 tackles and a career-best three for loss. Marcelino Ball and Marcus Oliver followed with nine tackles apiece. As a unit, the Indiana defense held Wake Forest to 352 total yards and forced six three-and-outs.
“As a defense, I think we played well,” said Scales. “We could have gotten a few more stops to help the offense out in certain situations. As a whole, we just have to bring it all together and play Hoosiers football.”
The Hoosiers vaulted to an early lead on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Lagow hit Westbrook on a crossing pattern near the 50-yard line, and the sophomore receiver turned upfield toward open pastures.
Wake Forest’s defense responded with a 24-point swing through the start of the third quarter. Aiding the Demon Deacons offense was their big-play defense, forcing two interceptions and a blocked field goal for three touchdowns on the other end.
Lagow and the Hoosiers righted the ship, and pulled within two scores, on a 75-yard drive that lasted two plays. On the first, Lagow located Jones on the left sideline with a step on his defender and let loose, connecting with Jones on a 65-yard reception. Lagow lofted a second touchdown to Westbrook in the corner of the end zone, cutting Indiana’s deficit to 24-14.
Following a Wake Forest field goal that gave the visitors a 13-point lead, Indiana amassed a 65-yard drive to pull within six points. Lagow and Jones reunited for a 50-yard toss down the sidelines to put IU in the red zone. Natee finished the sequence from a yard away, puncturing the line of scrimmage for his first career TD.
Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford sealed Indiana’s fate with the their final score in the fourth quarter, ending a 75-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown scramble. The Hoosiers closed the gap with a 49-yard tipped touchdown reception from Donovan Hale, the first score of his career.
The first Big Ten test of the season awaits Indiana next weekend, when the Hoosiers host Michigan State (2-1) on Saturday, Oct. 1. The game is set for an 8 p.m. ET kickoff on BTN.