Nittany Lions Top Hoosiers on Homecoming, 36-31
Oct. 20, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - James Hardy caught 14 passes for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but it wasn't enough for the Indiana football team Saturday afternoon in a 36-31 loss to Penn State. IU dropped to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten while the Nittany Lions improved to 6-2 overall with a 3-2 conference mark.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kellen Lewis threw for 318 yards and three scores on 30-of-48 passing. He also rushed for a 56-yard touchdown. Hardy was Lewis's main target, posting the second-most receptions in a contest in school history. Hardy became Indiana's all-time receiving touchdown king, breaking Jade Butcher's (1967-69) school record with his 31 career touchdowns.
Lewis was nearly flawless in the opening drive, completing five of six passes en route to a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. This marked the fifth time this season that the Hoosiers have scored on their opening possession. Hardy capped off the drive with an eight-yard touchdown reception after Lewis rolled to his left, bought some time and found him open at the goal line. Lewis was also able to find Andrew Means for two receptions covering 21 yards on the drive.
Penn State crossed the 50-yard line in their second possession of the game, but the drive was halted when Nick Polk made his first career interception. Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli took a shot at the end zone, and Polk was there to leap up and take the pass away from the intended receiver for the touchback.
The Nittany Lions scored a touchdown of their own at the 14:16 mark of the second quarter. Facing a third and seven from the 13-yard line, Morelli connected with Terrell Golden for the touchdown on a slant pass. The extra point attempt point was missed, however, wide left, leaving the score 7-6
Several minutes later, Indiana began a drive at the their own 17-yard line. The play of the drive came courtesy of the Lewis to Hardy connection. On a third-and-14 play, Lewis dodged several oncoming rushers before firing a pass down the sideline to Hardy who had to slowly fall out-of-bounds while keeping his feet planted to make the catch. Two plays later, Lewis tossed his second touchdown pass in the half, hitting junior running back Marcus Thigpen for a 30-yard screen pass touchdown.
Penn State responded immediately on the following drive. A two-yard touchdown run by Evan Royster, along with the PAT, narrowed the Hoosier lead to a lone point at 14-13. A three-and-out for the Hoosiers then handed the ball back to the Nittany Lions. PSU scored with 39 seconds left in the half for a 20-14 advantage at the break.
A fumble by both teams in the third quarter led to a pair of field goals. Tracy Porter muffed a punt early in the quarter, giving Penn State three points. Royster then returned the favor and coughed up the ball when tackled by sophomore Will Patterson. Sophomore Greg Middleton came out of the bottom of the pile with the fumble recovery. Austin Starr later connected on a 33-yard field goal for a 23-17 score with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter. It was Starr's 12th consecutive good field goal attempt.
The Hoosier defense held Penn State to a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter after two fumbles gave the Nittany Lions possession deep inside Indiana territory. With all the momentum in favor of Penn State, the IU offense stormed back down the field for six on their very next drive. Hardy completed the scoring drive by breaking the school record with his 31st career touchdown, a seven-yard pitch-and-catch with Lewis. Hardy's second touchdown reception of the day created a 29-24 score. The Hoosiers converted a fourth-and-six inside the 20-yard line a few plays earlier to keep the drive alive.
Penn State once again came right back down the field, however, draining nearly four and a half minutes off the clock with an 80-yard touchdown drive to give themselves a 36-24 edge with 3:58 left in the final quarter.
A 15-yard scamper by senior captain Josiah Sears pushed the Hoosiers to the 44-yard line. Lewis took care of the rest two plays later with a 56-yard touchdown rush down the right-side of the field. With 2:57 on the clock, the score stood at 36-31.
Indiana's defense was able to force a punt immediately and get the ball back into the hands of the offense with 1:43 remaining in the game. The Cream and Crimson gained two first downs before a fumbled snap ended the game as Penn State recovered with just 40 seconds left and kneeled out the remainder of the contest.
Indiana will travel to Madison, Wis., next Saturday for a noon kickoff with Wisconsin. The Badgers improved to 6-2 with a 44-3 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday.
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