Indiana 19, E. Kentucky 13
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP)Indiana's Trea Burgess ran for one touchdown, Ben Chappell threw for another and the Indiana defense met an opening night challenge by holding off Eastern Kentucky 19-13 on Thursday.
Chappell, Indiana's new starting quarterback, was productive.
He was 27 of 36 for a career-high 326 yards with one touchdown. Receiver Tandon Doss also had a career night, catching eight passes for 125 yards - all but one of the catches coming in the first half.
The Colonels (0-1) were led by Cody Watts, who was 12 of 16 for 171 yards.
But the Indiana offense needed help to earn its sixth straight season-opening win.
Eastern Kentucky (1-0), of the Football Championship Subdivision, shut out the Hoosiers (1-0) in the second half and twice had chances to take the lead.
Quarterback Cody Watts blew the first opportunity, losing a fumble at the Indiana 5 with 11:49 left in the game. The Colonels (0-1) also had a chance to win it in the closing minute, but backup quarterback T.J. Pryor's 40-yard heave to the end zone was batted away by Nick Polk to save the victory.
The Colonels still have not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision foe since 1985.
The rare weeknight game and the unveiling of the newly renovated Memorial Stadium helped Indiana draw its largest crowd for a home opener, 36,759, since 1997.
And after a half, it looked the celebration would be festive.
Will Patterson sacked Watts in the end zone on Eastern's first series, giving Indiana a 2-0 lead, and Chappell took advantage of the free kick by taking Indiana on a 63-yard scoring drive. Burgess plunged in from the 1 to make 9-0 midway through the first quarter.
Two series later, Chappell hooked up with a wide open Damarlo Belcher in the middle of the field for a 33-yard TD pass to make it 19-7.
But Indiana failed to score over the final 37 minutes.
And there were problems.
Redshirt freshman Darius Willis fumbled on his first college carry, ending the Hoosiers' first scoring chance. Chappell got leveled on a first-quarter pass and Eastern Kentucky's Jeremy Caldwell picked off the fluttering ball and Chappell was picked off again in the second half.
Indiana's new downhill ground game stalled, too. The Hoosiers finished with just 73 yards rushing.
The defense gave up a 61-yard TD pass from Watts to Garnett Phelps and the punt coverage team allowed a 40-yard return late in the half to set up Logan O'Connor's 23-yard field goal to make it 19-10 at the half.
Eastern Kentucky closed to 19-13 on O'Connor's 31-yard field midway through the third quarter, but it couldn't get any closer.