Indiana Rolls Past Murray State, 45-3
Sept. 6, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Indiana University's Marcus Thigpen is dubbed the fastest man in Bloomington for a reason. Yesterday, he outran the Racers.
The fifth-year senior looked like he was running sprints against Murray State's defense, scoring long touchdown runs on his first two carries and producing five plays of 20 yards or more in the first half as he led the Hoosiers to a 45-3 rout. It was almost picture perfect for the running back who failed to score a rushing touchdown last season.
"Once you get to that second level, it does feel like you're running track," said Thigpen, who also competes in that sport for IU. "You've just got to get through that first level."
He had no problem doing that.
For the second straight week, the Hoosiers used their no-huddle offense to wear down an opponent and catch the defense out of position. Only instead of quarterback Kellen Lewis making the big plays, it was Thigpen cleaning up yesterday.
He ran right through a gaping hole on his first carry and sprinted 67 yards down the middle of the field without being touched to make it 7-0 -- the longest run of his career.
The next time Thigpen got it, he took an outside pitch, waited patiently for his blockers to get set and then switched into high gear down the sideline for a 31-yard TD to make 14-3. IU snapped the ball so quickly on the play that Murray's defensive linemen weren't even in their stances.
"On the first one, he hit a crease and I thought someone was going to touch him," Lewis said. "But when they turned to catch him, I knew there was no chance. The second one, we caught them off-guard and they weren't even lined up, and he just beat them down the sideline."
The overmatched Racers (1-1) spent the rest of the night playing catchup, but IU made sure it wouldn't close.
The Hoosiers ran 53 times for 254 yards, and Lewis was 15 of 21 for 170 yards before being replaced early in the second half.
With the victory, Indiana is 2-0 for the fifth straight year, a school record, and has won four straight at home.
Even coach Bill Lynch found little to quibble with.
"I thought we played a more complete football game than we did last week," Lynch said.
Part of the explanation, clearly, was Thigpen's big-hitting plays. He ran seven times for 100 yards, 98 on the two TD runs, caught two passes for 24 yards and nearly got into the clear on two kickoff returns, too.
"He's such a threat," Lynch said. "He split them on the first one, and on the second one, he made a couple of nice cuts. I do think they weren't going to let Kellen just tuck it and run."
The Racers ran only one play in IU territory after the first quarter, and that resulted in an interception. They also had two personal fouls that each led to IU scores.
And they had only 28 yards rushing on 27 carries.
It was that kind of night.
"You play in an environment, but you also have to play fast," Murray State coach Matt Griffin said. "You have to play a faster opponent, and the speed of the game is something that you can't simulate. It's something you have to learn how to play against."
The Racers focused on Lewis, but he countered by letting his teammates carry the load.
The result: IU rushed for six TDs -- two from Thigpen and one each from Demetrius McCray, Bryan Payton, Zach Davis-Walker and backup quarterback Ben Chappell. It was the most rushing TDs the Hoosiers had in a game since October 2001 against Wisconsin, and it's believed to be the first time in school history that five different players ran for TDs in one game.
Racers quarterback Nico Yantko went 16 of 24 for 95 yards with one interception. He was sacked three times, and their only score came on Kienan Cullen's 27-yard field goal in the first quarter.
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