Indiana Wins Wild Overtime Thriller 44-41 to Claim Old Oaken Bucket
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Next verse, same as the first. Yes, once again, quarterback Peyton Ramsey saved the Indiana Hoosiers when they needed it the most.
"What more can you say about Peyton Ramsey?'' Indiana coach Tom Allen said after Indiana's 44-41 double overtime victory over instate rival Purdue on Saturday.
Well, a lot actually.
The junior quarterback who lost his starting job at the beginning of the season but has rescued the Hoosiers with several huge performances on the road, threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to lead Indiana to a 44-41 double-overtime victory over Purdue, winning the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time in three years.
He also rushed for two touchdowns, including the game-winner in double overtime, a 1-yard sneak that set off a wild celebration for the Hoosiers.
Overcoming a ton of adversity
There's a whole lot of ugly to this one, but the end result trumps all of it. Indiana's defense gave up a season-high 610 yards and was directly responsible for the Hoosiers blowing a 28-10 second-half lead. Purdue tied the game at 31-all with 2:48 left in regulation to force overtime.
In the first overtime, Ramsey hit Nick Westbrook for a 14-yard touchdown in the left corner to give Indiana the lead. Westbrook, a fifth-year senior, did a good job of getting separation to make the score 38-31.
Purdue answered on its possession, scoring on fourth down when Aidan O'Connell, the Boilermakers' third-string quarterback who threw for 408 yards, hit tight end Brycen Hopkins for a 6-yard score. The PAT tied it at 38.
In the second overtime, Indiana had to go right back out on defense, and the Hoosiers forced a fourth-and-2 situation again at the 17-yard line. Purdue elected to kick a field goal, which kicker J.D. Dellinger converted from 34 yards out to make it 41-38, giving Purdueits first lead of the day.
Indiana got a quick first down on its possession to the 15, but after two incompletions, they faced a critical third-and-10 situation. Ramsey found tight end Peyton Hendershot over the middle for 14 yards to the 1-yard line.
Ramsey hurrried up to the line and snuck it in from the 1-yard line for the win.
"We've been really good on quarterback sneaks all year,'' Ramsey said. "We got that big gain and we wanted to hurry up to the line and get it off quick and we punched it in.''
Ramsey accounted for five touchdowns on the day and Indiana moved to 8-4. It's only the eighth IU team in school history to win eight games, and the first to do so since 1993. Six IU teams have won eight games, and two (1945, 1967) have won nine. Indiana will have a chance for a ninth win in its bowl game, which will be determined on Dec. 8.
Purdue took Indiana right to the wire, erasing Indiana's big second-half lead thanks to multiple mistakes by the defense and special teams.
One of the most shocking errors on the Indiana side was that senior kicker Logan Justus missed three field goal attempts. He hadn't missed all year prior to Saturday, making 14 kicks in a row. His misses let Purdue get back in the game.
Purdue scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the second one to sensational freshman wide receiver David Bell from 20 yards out on third down with 2:48 to go. Bell caught it over Indiana freshman Tiawan Mullen who had battled him with great success all day, including the first two passes on the series.
Bell, a true freshman, finished with nine catches for 131 yards despite being blanketed by Indiana's Tiawan Mullen all day. This showdown of two of America's premier freshmen lived up to its billing.
"It was mano y mano all day,'' Mullen said. "He made a lot of great plays, but I feel like I made a lot of great plays, too. It was a battle, and I loved every minute of it''
Sampson James has a huge first start
Indiana got a huge boost from another true freshman, running back Sampson James from Avon. He got his first college start at running back because sophomore Stevie Scott was out with a lower leg injury.
All James did was rush for 118 yards on 22 carries before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. He was glad to be a part of history for the Hoosiers, who took back the Old Oaken Bucket after two straight defeats in the series cost them bowl bids in 2017 and 2018.
The freshmen stood up big.
"We were talking about that in the locker room after the game, the guys in my class,'' said James, who met with the media with a walking boot on. "This is why we came here, to do big things like this. It was great to be a part of it.
"I've been working hard all year to be ready and Stevie, he's a great guy, man. He helped me, too. I was ready for it all.''
With the win, the Hoosiers finished 5-4 in the Big Ten, their first winning season in the league since 1993. The five conference wins are one short of a school record.
Indiana also benefited from having wide receiver Whop Philyor back in the lineup. He was injured early in the Nov. 16 loss at Penn State, but he made an immediate impact on his return on Saturday.
He finished with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. That gave him 1,001 yards for the season.
"It felt so good to be back out there with my guys,'' Philyor said. "That was so much fun.''
Indeed, it was.