Hoosiers Gain Bowl Eligibility with 38-20 Victory
Nov. 3, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana football team took another step toward "playing 13" on Saturday, gaining its sixth win and bowl eligibility for the first time since 1994 with a 38-20 victory over Ball State. Kellen Lewis threw for a career-high 354 yards in the victory, while James Hardy and Ray Fisher each caught two TDs. The Hoosiers moved to 6-4 on the season, while Ball State is now 5-5.
The Hoosiers ran off 21 straight points in the second quarter to pull away from the Cardinals, with Christopher Phillips providing the key play of the day for the Hoosiers. After a 60-yard TD pass to Ray Fisher, Phillips ended the ensuing drive for BSU with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown to give IU its first lead of the contest, one it would not relinquish.
Lewis and Hardy each etched their names into the Indiana record book, as Lewis' four TD passes gave him 23 on the season, breaking Blake Powers' school record of 22, set in 2005. Hardy's two TD receptions gave him 13 on the season, matching Ernie Jones' record set in 1987. Hardy finished with 116 yards receiving, while Fisher had 134, marking the first time two Hoosiers finished with 100-plus receiving yards since 2005.
On the first play from scrimmage, Kellen Lewis rolled out of the pocket and went deep to James Hardy on the right side. The pass was underthrown, though, and Trey Lewis picked it off and returned it to the IU 28. The Cardinals used the short field to drive inside the Hoosier 10, but the IU defense held strong, forcing a 19-yard field goal by Ian McGarvey to make the score 3-0 Ball State at 11:37.
The Hoosiers came right back with a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ended with Austin Starr's 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. The score was set up on a brilliant play by Lewis and Hardy, as on third-and-17 from the IU 42, Lewis eluded a pair of defenders and heaved a 47-yard completion to his junior star. The field goal was Starr's 17th of the season, tying Pete Stoyanovich for the single-season Hoosier record.
Another Hoosier turnover resulted in Ball State's first touchdown of the day, a four-yard run by Chris Clancy through the right side with 1:51 to play in the opening quarter. That wrapped up a seven-play, 56-yard drive for the Cardinals. The key play came on fourth-and-5 from the 25, when BSU faked a field goal and completed a 10-yard pass to Davyd Jones for the first down.
The Hoosiers tied the game on a brilliant catch and run by Fisher on a screen pass. Lewis found Fisher on the left side on a bubble screen, and the sophomore broke upfield, cutting around defenders and slashing to his right for a 60-yard score, the longest of his career. The touchdown tied the game at 10-10 with 9:28 to play in the half.
IU made it two scores in just over two minutes on the first interception return for a touchdown of the season. Nate Davis looked and fired to his right six yards upfield and Phillips jumped the route and bolted 58 yards for an IU score. It was the second TD return of Phillips' career, as he had a 66-yard score in the 2006 opener against Western Michigan.
A defensive stop on BSU's next drive gave the Hoosiers the ball back at their own 42. On the third play of the drive, Lewis scrambled on third-and-14 and picked up 15 to give the Hoosiers a first down. Fisher added a third down conversion on third-and-10, and on the next play, Lewis found Hardy on the right side of the end zone for his 12th touchdown grab of the season to make it 24-10.
Ball State scored on its first possession of the second half, putting together a 10-play, 80-yard drive, with Davis going 5-for-7 including a 17-yard TD pass to Daniel Ifft to trim the deficit to 24-17 at 11:48 of the third. Dante Love had three of the receptions for the Cardinals on the drive.
Indiana responded with a touchdown drive of its own, this one covering 59 yards on seven plays, as Hardy grabbed his second touchdown of the game and 13th of the season. On second-and-goal, Lewis found Hardy on the right side of the end zone to make the score 31-17 with 8:35 to play in the third. Bryan Payton had three runs for 20 yards on the drive, while Marcus Thigpen caught a 31-yard screen pass to set up the score.
Ray Fisher added an exclamation point to the victory with a brilliant TD catch to open the fourth quarter, as Lewis found him on a post route over the middle. Fisher made a full extension, pulled the ball in and held on for his second score of the game, this one a 25-yarder. McGarvey added a field goal with 9:03 to play, but that was all they could muster the rest of the way.
The Hoosiers return to action next weekend with the final road contest of the 2007 season, as they head to Evanston, Ill., for a matchup with Northwestern (5-5, 2-4 Big Ten). IU will kick off against the Wildcats at 11 a.m CST/noon EST and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
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