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Indiana bounces back with win over Maryland, loses Michael Penix Jr. with lower leg injury

Indiana bounces back with win over Maryland, loses Michael Penix Jr. with lower leg injury

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The word “response” was Indiana’s word of the week but also became the overarching theme in the Hoosiers’ game against Maryland Saturday afternoon.

No. 12 Indiana responded from adversity in their 27-11 home win over the Terrapins and improve to 5-1 on the year.

The word was motivation after the loss at then-No. 3 Ohio State last week, but it was also necessary to guide Indiana through stagnant offense and injury to quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

“The whole team has to respond ... your offense has to adjust, and other guys got to go step up,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “That’s what we did, and that’s how we won the game.”

There wasn't an immediate diagnosis for Penix's injury, but Allen offered it was a lower leg injury with no further comment. The sophomore walked off with trainer's. Penix has thrown for 1,561 yards and 14 touchdowns to four interceptions in six games this season.

Other than one complete drive capped off by a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Indiana running back Stevie Scott late in the first quarter, the offense came out very flat. Penix struggled tremendously, completing only two of his 15 passes for 37 yards.

Per usual, though, Indiana’s defense kept the opponent in check, intercepting Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa twice in the red zone to ensure Indiana a 7-3 halftime lead.

Despite the sluggish start, Indiana flipped the script after the break. Their first drive was effective, but fell short, at the Maryland 3-yard line before Indiana’s defense sacked Tagovailoa on the next play for a safety and a 9-3 advantage.

Following the punt after the safety, disaster struck late in the third quarter. Penix took a designed run 21 yards to Maryland’s 3-yard line before coming off a tackle awkwardly and remaining down on the ground for extended time.

Once again, Indiana needed to respond, backup quarterback Jack Tuttle, the running game and Indiana’s defense did just that to overcome the loss of their sidelined star.

The play following Penix’s injury, Scott scored his second touchdown of the game. Then, Tuttle completed his first pass of the season to tight end Peyton Hendershot for a two-point conversion and extended Indiana’s lead to 17-3.

“There was no drop-off,” Allen said displaying confidence in Tuttle’s ability to lead the offense. “Whatever position it is, guys have to step up when called upon.”

With Penix absent, the running game carried the offense in a collective effort with a number of direct snaps coming in the wildcat formation. Scott, David Ellis, and Tim Baldwin combined for team season-highs of 48 attempts and 234 rushing yards just a week after a season worst minus-1 yards against Ohio State.

The consistent success of the running game accounted for all of Indiana’s touchdowns and drained the clock to give Indiana control of the game.

Scott’s third touchdown came with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter and was the nail in the coffin to put Indiana up 27-3. All of his scores came from taking the direct snap in the wildcat formation, something new that the team worked on to spice up the running game.

“In practice we ran it a lot just to get everything down pat,” Scott said. “Every time we ran it, it felt like practice.”

Baldwin, a true freshman, also had a career day along with Scott in the absence of backup Sampson James. Baldwin led the team with 106 rushing yards.

To complement the success of the running game, Indiana’s defense dominated Maryland in the second half.

The Hoosier defense only allowed 63 yards of offense in the second half, including minus-5 in the third quarter and a third interception. Despite a garbage-time touchdown with 1:32 left in the game, Maryland’s offense could not find any momentum to be competitive down the stretch.

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