Anchors Aweigh! Welcome to a midweek edition of our throwback series, today we step out of Big Ten play as Indiana travels to Annapolis to play the Naval Academy. This was a tough loss to swallow for the Hoosiers who blew a nine point lead in the last 12 minutes to fall 31-30.
Opponent: Navy Midshipmen
Location: Saturday October 20th /3pm/ Navy Memorial Stadium/ (Annapolis, Maryland)
Why They Played: This is a head scratcher to me. Indiana agreed to play a home-and-home with Navy in 2012 and 2013, which would be fine if Navy was a BCS school that ran a normal offense. While Navy is a well know school that plays football they do not merit traveling to Annapolis for a game, but hey we are talking about the school that played at UMass. The trouble with playing Navy is their triple-option offense, which teams have to step out of their normal routine and basically install an entirely different defense.
What The Game Meant:
Even though this was not an intelligent game to play, it carried meaning for the Hoosiers and the Midshipmen. Indiana was looking to go 3-1 and pull within a game of .500 with a win in their final non-conference game, which would give them their first winning non-conference slate since 2010. Navy on the other hand was seeking to get over the .500 mark and jumpstart their season by beating a BCS conference foe.
Top Offensive Performers:
Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana- Houston speared headed a three man rushing attack for the Hoosiers, that accounted for 161 yards and three scores, with 82 yards and a touchdown. While this was not his best game overall the junior runner was consistent and kept the chains moving.
Shane Wynn, WR, Indiana- The dynamo receiver lead the team in both catches with seven and in yards with 76. The Hoosier passing attack did not produce a touchdown, but that was not because of the effort Wynn put forth.
Keenen Reynolds, QB, Navy- The Hoosiers had trouble stopping the leader of the Midshipmen attack all day. Reynolds was an efficient 8 of 13 passing for 96 yards and a touchdown, while adding another score and 66 yards on the ground.
Top Defensive Performers
Greg Heban, S, Indiana- Once again Heban stepped up to lead the Hoosier defense in tackles. His 13 stops were a season high as he tried to keep the Middies at bay.
Jordan Drake, LB, Navy- The middle man in the Navy defense made the play that kept Navy alive in the game. With the Hoosiers leading by 10 and only three minutes until half time Drake picked off a Cam Coffman pass and took it 24 yards to the house to pull the Midshipmen within 3. Drake also contributed 8 tackles to his day for an all-around great performance
Special Team Performance:
After getting hammered by the Ohio State special teams unit the Hoosiers bounced back nicely as kicker Mitch Ewald connected on all three of his field goals and was perfect on PATs. Erich Toth had his best day as a punter averaging 43.5 yards on just two punts. The return team was nothing great but they were not awful either as the team averaged 22.3 yards a return.
This is the turnover margin in favor of Navy. The Hoosiers threw two interceptions at the most inopportune times. One as the first half was coming to a close that resulted in a pick six and brought Navy back into the game and the other as the Hoosiers were driving for a game winning field goal late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Midshipmen. These were back breaking plays that just cannot happen to a team that wants to win on the road.
The tone of the game changed when Jordan Drake took a Cam Coffman pass back for six points. Indiana had been in control the entire game and this play put them on their heels. Instead of going into the half up by 10 Indiana limped into the locker room up only 6 and giving the ball to Navy to start the third quarter.
I Knew it was over when…
Parrish Gaines stepped in front of a Coffman pass to end a Hoosier drive with a minute and a half left.
Players of the Game
Indiana Greg Heban, Safety- Heban did all he could to stop the Navy offense with 13 tackles and a pass break-up, but ultimately it was not enough to keep Navy’s offense from scoring 24 points.
Navy- Keenen Reynolds, Quarterback- Reynolds lead the Navy attack with 162 total yards and two scores. He did not throw the ball often, but when he did the quarterback made the Hoosiers pay averaging 7.4 yards a pass.
What I took away from the game
The entire year heading into this match-up I kept asking myself why is Indiana playing this game? I don’t understand it. To me Indiana needs wins to build their program on and it shouldn’t matter if it is a win against Akron or Ohio State, just get the W’s. The Hoosiers were in good position to pull the win out, up nine with 12 minutes to go, but could not finish the job. That was the story of the game, finishing. The Hoosiers just could not finish enough drives, as Ewald kicked three field goals from the Navy 20-yard line or closer. Kevin Wilson has touched upon this point during media day in Chicago and in Bloomington during preseason camp. The Hoosiers need to score more points! Instead of settling for short field goals they need to toughen up and punch it in to pay dirt.