Rapid Reaction: Indiana blows out Eastern Illinois in home opener

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It was supposed to be easy, and it was.

Indiana, a whopping 35.5-point favorite against Eastern Illinois, had no trouble dispatching their FCS foe, winning in a record-setting rout, 52-0. 

IU redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. led the way early with 197 passing yards and his day was done before halftime, and most everyone got in on the fun in the home opener.

The Hoosiers couldn’t have played any better in the first quarter. They scored touchdowns on all three full possessions and outgained Eastern Illinois 190 yards to minus-5.

Indiana’s defense, criticized a week ago for poor tackling in the season-opening win against Ball State, was well prepared Saturday. EIU ran only nine plays in the first quarter — all three-and-outs — and only two of the nine plays had positive yardage.

Meanwhile the IU offense was nearly perfect as well. Penix threw for 147 yards in the quarter and Miles Marshall, Stevie Scott and Cole Gest all scored touchdowns. It was Marshall's first career touchdown.

After a few stalled drives in the second quarter, the Hoosiers struck quickly on back-to-back possessions. Penix led the Hoosiers on a 10-play, 80-yard drive, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot with only 1:44 left to make it 28-0. IU’s defense forced another three-and-out, and with IU using its timeouts, it got the ball back. Peyton Ramsey came in at quarterback and hit running back Ronnie Walker Jr., in the flat. He broke a few tackles and went 64 yards for a score with 1:07 left for a 35-0 halftime lead.

Ramsey played well in the second half as well. He threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Donovan Hale that was as easy as it comes. Hale used a double move on the cornerback, and no one was within 20 yards of him when he caught the ball to make it 42-0.

Early in the fourth quarter, Indiana scored again on another long drive. True freshman Sampson James scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run with 13:28 to go. Backup kicker Charles Campbell made a 48-yard field to give IU a 52-0 lead. 

Surprisingly, Indiana never forced a turnover in the game, which ended their 19-game streak of getting a takeaway. That had been the longest streak in the nation.

NEXT UP: Indiana is home again next week against No. 5-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten opener for both schools. Ohio State beat Cincinnati 42-0 on Saturday. 

;Indiana Hoosiers tight end Turon Ivy Jr. (84) celebrates a touchdown scored by Indiana Hoosiers running back Stevie Scott III (8) during the first quarter of the game against the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Memorial Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports