Demetrius McCray had a career-high 134 yards rushing including a 59-yard TD run, and Indiana’s defense forced a late turnover to preserve a 23-19 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday.
The Hoosiers (2-0) had a chance to put the game away midway through the fourth. Facing fourth-and-a foot from the Western 6, the Hoosiers decided to kick a 21-yard field goal that would have given them a 9-point lead.
Instead, freshman Nick Freeland’s attempt was blocked by Austin Pritchard, setting up a bizarre finish.
The Broncos (0-2) drove to the Indiana 5, thanks in part to four Hoosiers penalties. Then, when it appeared Western was about to take the lead, Aaron Winchester was hit behind the line, lost the ball and Justin Carrington recovered for Indiana.
It still wasn’t over.
When Indiana failed to run out the clock, punter Chris Hagerup stepped out of the back of the end zone with 17 seconds left to make it 23-19.
That gave Western another chance to win it. The Broncos went to the old hook-and-lateral play, which started on the left side of the field and came all the way back to the right sideline, finally ending after five pitches – the last one called a forward lateral – as time expired.
Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell finished 18 of 28 for 185 yards. The Hoosiers running game, however, made a big jump. After averaging 2.35 yards per carry in last week’s season opener, Indiana ran 33 times for 187 yards to open 2-0 for the sixth straight season.
Western Michigan has now lost all five games in this series.
Quarterback Tim Hiller was 28 of 43 for 266 yards with one touchdown and single-handedly tried to rally the Broncos from a 17-7 halftime deficit. The Broncos ran 29 times for just 22 yards.
Chappell got the Hoosiers going quickly, driving them to a field goal and then scoring on a 1-yard plunge early in the second quarter to make it 10-0.
Backup quarterback Drew Burdi replaced Hiller for one play, taking the shotgun snap, running left and scoring on a 7-yard run to make it 10-7.
That’s when McCray found a big hole on the left side and sprinted down the sidelines for the 59-yard score to make it 17-7 at the half.
But Hiller opened the second half by hooking up with Robert Arnheim for a 41-yard score to make it 17-14 early in the third quarter.
Indiana then got a 32-yard field goal from Freeland, which hit the right upright before dropping between the goal posts to make it 20-14.
The Broncos and Hoosiers traded field goals before Freeland’s final attempt was blocked.