Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
IU Escapes Southern Illinois with 48-47 Victory
The Indiana Hoosiers (1-0) survived an impressive offensive display from the Southern Illinois Salukis (0-1) to win the opening game of their 2015 season, 48-47. The Salukis got within one point after Mark Iannotti's fourth touchdown pass of the afternoon and decided to attempt a two-point conversion and go for the win. Iannotti rolled to the right and fired a pass that was broken up by Indiana defensive back Andre Brown. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Anthony Corsaro and the Hoosiers knocked off their FCS foe at Memorial Stadium by the narrowest of margins.
Senior quarterback Mark Iannotti was tremendous all afternoon, throwing for 411 yards with four touchdowns and running for 116 yards. The Indiana defense, playing without four starters due to suspension, struggled mightily to slow down the Salukis as SIU gained 659 yards on more than 8.4 yards per play. Indiana's offense was impressive as well, amassing 595 yards with a balanced attack (246 rushing yards, 349 passing yards) led by quarterback Nate Sudfeld (349 yards and 1 TD) and running backs Jordan Howard (145 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Devine Redding (68 yards and 2 touchdowns).
Indiana struck first with a rushing touchdown by Devine Redding but SIU would answer and eventually head into the locker room with a lead of 32-21. SIU coach Dale Lennon said the first half was "a good half, regardless of who you're playing. The offense did a good job of executing the schemes that we practiced and the confidence level was very high."
Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson told his squad at halftime to "just slow down, play one play, take a deep breath, (you) can't change what happened."
The Hoosiers had a very strong third quarter, outscoring the Salukis 17-0 to take a 38-32 lead into the fourth quarter. Southern Illinois would tie the game at 38 on a long touchdown by Daquan Isom but the extra point was missed. The squads traded field goals to remain tied at 41 when Indiana took possession with a little more than two minutes remaining. Nate Sudfeld showed off his strong arm with a beautiful deep ball to the top receiver of the day, Ricky Jones (six catches for 186 yards), that moved the Hoosiers to the one-yard line. Jordan Howard ran in his third touchdown of the day and IU took a 48-41 lead. However, Southern Illinois quickly moved down the field and Mark Iannotti connected with Jimmy Jones for a 25-yard touchdown with 18 seconds remaining to pull SIU within one before the failed two-point conversion.
Wilson said he knew SIU was going to go for two if they scored. He told his team, "if they score, they are going for two, you have to be ready."
The Hoosiers will take on Florida International (1-0) next Saturday night. Check back to Hoosier Huddle often for plenty of excellent coverage on IU's week one victory and previews of the week two game against the Golden Panthers.