BLOOMINGTON, IN—- Indiana State struck first at Indiana and had the ball with a chance to tie on the last play of the game, but eventually the Hoosiers walked away with a hard fought 24-17 victory over the Sycamores in front of 41,882 fans at Memorial Stadium.
ISU falls to 0-1 on the young season while Indiana improved to 1-0.
"We had chances throughout the game, but we didn't take advantage of them," coach Miles commented. "We had every opportunity to win the ball game; we just didn't take advantage of it. They were a very high tempo team that caused us some problems. They are well coached and did a great job."
Junior tailback Shakir Bell rushed for 192 yards on 24 carries -- with a 54-yard touchdown, which proved to be a new school record for most rushing yards by a Sycamore ever in a season opening game. It was the 16th 100-yard rushing game by a Sycamore in a season lidlifter.
"He has been playing great," Miles commented about Bell. "He doesn't amaze me anymore. Unfortunately for him, we have come to the expectation to play well. I thought Shakir played with heart, ran well, picked up blitzes and just played an all-around game. He can play on any stage. He is the real deal. He's a real competitor, a great kid and a great running back."
Mike Perish made his Sycamore debut and amassed 211 yards through the air on 20-of-31 passing. It was the seventh 200-yard passing game in the history of ISU during a season opener and the first since Reilly Murphy had 235 at Purdue to open the 2006 campaign.
Donald Spencer had seven catches for 64 yards and Michael Mardis recorded six receptions for 65 yards to lead the way.
The Sycamores put five different defenders into double digit tackles with Jacolby Washington leading the way with 13, including one for a loss. Dillion Painter & Aaron Archie recorded 12 while Donovan Layne posted 11 and Calvin Burnett had 10.
Tre Roberson paced the Indiana offense with a 26-of-36 passing performance for 280 yards and one touchdown.
Leading 17-10 at the half, Indiana drove the ball 11 yards and 75 yards over the first 4:55 of the third quarter to extend their advantage to two possessions with a one-yard scoring plunge by quarterback Tre Roberson.
The Sycamores spirit was not dampened by the Hoosier TD as they marched down the field for a 10-play, 76-yard drive which ended with a 23-yard pass from Mike Perish to Austen Wozniak with 5:14 left in the third quarter to trim the Hoosier lead down to 24-17. The catch for Wozniak represented the eighth pass completion in a row for Perish, which is the longest streak for a Sycamore since Ronnie Fouch had 10 in a row and just three short of Jeff Miller's school record set in 1984.
Indiana State's defense got the stop it needed following a Fritschle touchback which resulted in a third-and-eight opportunity for the Hoosiers as Calvin Burnett knocked down a long Roberson pass to force a punt. The Sycamores took over at their own 36-yard line and a pair of Bell rushes netted a first down as the Sycamores moved towards midfield. The drive ended when the Hoosiers forced Donald Spencer to fumble the ball after a catch in Indiana territory with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
The turnover did not hurt the Sycamores as they were able to march down to the 25-yard line, but a 42-yard attempt by Mitch Ewald hit the left upright to keep the score right there at 24-17 in favor of Indiana as the third quarter wound down to a conclusion.
The fourth quarter proved to be a defensive battle that didn't see either team score. The Sycamores' Johnny Towalid blocked a field goal to give the Sycamore offense a chance with under five minutes to go and ISU stopped the Hoosiers late in the contest to give the offense the ball with 25 seconds to go.
Mike Perish completed a pair of length passes, one to Michael Mardis and the other to Donald Spencer to creep inside the 34-yard line. Perish made a last second heave but the pass was knocked down to end the contest.
The Sycamores got two first downs on their opening drive after receiving the initial kickoff of the game. After being forced to put, the Hoosiers put together a drive of their own which ended with a touchdown being taken away due to an offensive pass interference call which led to an IU punt.
Screen passes to Spencer and Bell from quarterback Mike Perish led to a Shakir Bell rush over left guard for a 54-yard touchdown at the 6:28 mark of the first quarter to give the Sycamores a 7-0 lead.
The Hoosiers answered in just 48 seconds to Bell's long TD scamper with a big play of their own as Shane Wynn hauled in a 71-yard pass from Roberson with 5:35 left in the first quarter to knot the score at 7.
Mitch Ewald hit a 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but Calvin Burnett was flagged for running into the kicker, to give the Hoosiers a fourth-and-one opportunity. Indiana went on score from 15-yards out on a Stephen Houston rush to take a 14-7 lead with 13:53 on the clock in the second quarter.
Indiana got a three-and-out stop on defense and drove into the red zone but this time they had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Mitch Ewald with 4:45 left in the second quarter to give the Hoosiers a 17-7 lead.
The Sycamores and Hoosiers traded punts and the Sycamores got it 46 seconds on the clock at their own 35-yard line. Bell broke off a pair of long runs to move the ball into Hoosier territory before Perish completed passes to Michael Mardis, Demory Lawshe and Donald Spencer to move inside the IU 30. Tanner Fritschle drilled his first career field goal - a 45-yarder - as the first half clock expired to inch the Sycamores closer at 17-10.
Shakir Bell finished the first half with 145 yards rushing on 14 attempts while Mike Perish was 9-of-13 for 74 yards and Donald Spencer had four catches for 31 yards. Calvin Burnett led the Sycamores with seven total tackles before the break.
"I think our kids will make a big step from this game to the next game, just from the mental standpoint of the game," Miles said.