Indiana can't hold lead in 31-30 loss to Navy
For yet another week, Indiana's impressive passing attack rolled up yards through the air, while its defense was unable to shut down its opponent's offense. Thus, the Hoosiers again found themselves on the wrong end of a final score.
Against Navy on Saturday, Indiana led 30-21 with 12:18 remaining only to allow a field goal and then see Midshipmen freshman Keenan Reynolds complete a 4-yard touchdown pass to Matt Aiken with 2:02 left. Navy freshman kicker Nick Sloan added the extra point for a 31-30 win.
Parrish Gaines' interception with 1:38 remaining sealed the win for the Midshipmen (4-3), who beat a Big Ten opponent for the first time since 1979 when they won at Illinois 13-12.
Earlier in the game, Navy linebacker Jordan Drake's 24-yard interception return had cut the Hoosiers' lead to 17-14.
It was the fifth straight loss for Indiana (2-5) and came although the Hoosiers moved the ball almost at will for most of the first three quarters and gained 417 yards on 78 plays.
The Hoosiers led 17-7 after opening the game with scoring drives of 67, 50 and 72 yards.
Navy's defense rallied, however, holding Indiana without a first down on three of its five second-half possessions, including the series preceding and following the winning touchdown.
''We just needed to get the initial first down (on both series) and get it rolling. Maybe we put (quarterback Cameron Coffman) in a bad situation,'' said Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.
Coffman completed 25 of 37 passes for 244 yards, but threw two costly interceptions that made a big difference.
''Earlier in the game he had the interception on a batted ball, and at the end of the game he just made a poor choice,'' said Wilson. ''Our last five plays at the end of the game, we go the wrong way on a running play, we have a receiver run the wrong route, and then we have a pick.''
The Midshipmen led only once before the winning score, when they took a 21-20 lead on Darius Staten's 17-yard run with 7:37 to play in the third quarter.
Indiana countered with drives of 58 and 80 yards, yielding a 30-yard field goal by Mitch Ewald and a 3-yard run by Tevin Coleman.
Reynolds, starting just his second game, led Navy on scoring drives of 74 yards on 16 plays and 72 yards on nine plays to win the game.
The first of those drives ended in Sloan's 18-yard field goal as the Midshipmen were held at the 1 after a drive that lasted almost 7 minutes.
Then, after Navy held the Hoosiers on downs, the Midshipmen got the ball back at their own 28 with 4:48 to play. On the winning drive, Gee Gee Greene caught a 21-yard pass from Reynolds and added a 22-yard run to move the ball to the Hoosiers' 21.
Reynolds completed 8 of 13 passes for 96 yards and also rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries.
''He played with a lot of confidence today,'' said Navy slotback Bo Snelson. ''On that last drive he knew what (Indiana) would do. He just stayed true to the system.''
Greene had 88 yards on 15 rushes and caught two passes for 35 yards as Navy gained 353 yards, 233 in the second half.
Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes each had seven catches for Indiana. The Hoosiers also rushed for 173 yards, led by Stephen Houston's 82 yards and D'Angelo Roberts' 50 yards and 3-yard touchdown run.
Houston has scored in all seven games this season and the Hoosiers have scored at least 24 points in seven straight games for the first time in school history.
On defense, the Hoosiers were led by Greg Heban's career-high 13 tackles, nine solo. They failed to get a turnover, however, despite forcing two fumbles, and were whistled for two very costly roughness penalties, both of which played big roles in Navy scoring drives.
''As good as we play, we always have mistakes,'' said Wilson. ''We had a couple critical ones at the point of attack that hurt us getting a first down at the end of the game.
''Even though we haven't won, we're doing a lot of things that winning teams do,'' Wilson added. ''It was a heck of a fight against a tough team.''