BLOOMINGTON – Indiana knew the dangers of Maryland’s running game coming into Saturday’s clash at Memorial Stadium, and they saw it play out in the Terrapins’ 269 rushing yards on 50 carries. But the Hoosiers (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten East) had an answer in their 42-36 victory.
“It’s a good win, a tough win,” said Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson. “I think the way they battled the last couple of games down the stretch, there’s some talent. They prepare well and there’s a lot of fight.
Indiana’s solution, rather than outfoxing Maryland (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten East) through the air, was to pound the ball on the ground and outperform the nation’s 16th-best rushing attack. They did that, and more, with 414 yards on the ground and three rushers — Devine Redding, Tyler Natee, and Zander Diamont — with more than 100 yards apiece. Furthermore, it’s the first game against an FBS opponent in program history where five Indiana players earned rushing touchdowns.
“As an offense we went back and looked at stuff from last year, just to see what we were capable of, so we decided to match that and surpass it,” said Redding. “It was just the overall mind set. You could tell that this game the offensive line had the mind set to be better than the person across from them.”
Redding and Natee split 35 carries, with the former leading the tally at 13- yards. Natee completed his first game with triple-digit yardage, at 111 yards, eclipsing his previous season total of 64 yards.
“He’s a big guy,” said Marcus Oliver, on Natee’s imposing 270-pound frame lining up for the direct snap. “At practice you can’t go low on him, he’s a load; and if you go up top with him you aren’t taking him down.”
Diamont found a bevy of big plays on a team leading 9.5 yards-per-carry rate and two touchdowns. That included his game-clinching 52-yard dash in the final minute, lifting the quarterback to a career-high of 104 yards.
A pair of stalwarts in the Hoosiers’ aerial attack rounded out the five Indiana players with rushing scores. Quarterback Richard Lagow completed 16-of-25 passes for 207 yards in the air, but found the end zone on a thumping 5-yard keeper to take the lead in the third quarter. Mitchell Page ended the third quarter with his first career touchdown, a 15-yard read option reverse that ended with a lunge past the pylon.
Tegray Scales set the tone for Indiana’s defense with 13 tackles, his sixth consecutive game with 10-plus takedowns. That’s the second-longest active streak in FBS football, and he’s the first Hoosier to accomplish the feat in at least 26 years.
Indiana saw another big-play effort from their breakout defensive back, Marcelino Ball, who came up with one interception, two pass breakups, and a tackle in Maryland’s backfield. His fumble recovery, forced by Oliver on a strip sack, set up the Hoosiers with a 9-yard field and the eventual game-clinching touchdown. Oliver, for his part, finished the game with two of Indiana’s four sacks, two forced fumbles and eight tackles.
“Just going back to practice and doing the little things right,” Oliver said on the keys to Indiana’s big play defense. “There is a lot of things that we let get away, just one or two plays that should have been for no gain but weren’t. We just have to do those little things right when it comes time to finish the game.”
The Hoosiers leapt to a 13-0 lead to start the contest. Both sides traded blows in the second quarter before Maryland took their first lead at 21-16, with 30 seconds remaining in the first half, from a 23-yard touchdown pass from Perry Hills to D.J. Moore. Lagow briefly regained the lead for Indiana in the third quarter on his touchdown rush, before a field goal gave the Terrapins a 1-point lead.
The Hoosiers’ following drive clinched the game. Indiana traveled 75 yards in 71 seconds over a 5-play span, starting with Lagow’s 13-yard connection to Nick Westbrook. Paige vaulted into the air for a catch on the sideline before Mike Majette tore the roof off of the secondary with a 27-yard screen. On the final play of the quarter, Natee took the direct snap and handed off to Diamont for a right-side sweep. Diamont pitched the ball to an intersecting Paige, who flipped the field and kissed the pylon on his way to the decisive 15-yard touchdown.
Indiana has four games remaining in the regular season, starting with next weekend’s matchup at Rutgers (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten East). The contest is set for a noon ET kickoff at High Point Solutions Stadium, and will air live on the Big Ten Network.