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IU stumbles as offense falls on face

High-powered unit fizzles, leaving defense without help

– BLOOMINGTON – An Indiana offense that sizzled through its first three games fizzled in a 45-28 loss to Missouri on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

“Disappointing to lose and not play better, but you got to give a lot of credit to Missouri,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “Offensively, they had a lot of balance.”

The IU defense gave up yards early, but made key plays to give the offense time a chance to rouse itself.

For a time, it worked.

Senior safety Greg Heban picked off Missouri quarterback James Franklin twice inside the goal line, but the Hoosiers (2-2) could not capitalize. The Tigers (3-0) went into the second quarter ahead 14-0, with 11 more offensive plays than IU and 202 total yards as a result.

But after an IU punt to start the second quarter, freshman linebacker Marcus Oliver forced a fumble, junior cornerback Tim Bennett scooped it up and the Hoosiers managed to score.

“We did create some turnovers, a few stops, but not enough,” Wilson said. “I think we were just out of sync.”

Junior receiver Cody Latimer had four catches for 43 yards from sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld on the drive. Latimer also got his second touchdown of the season on a 10-yard out route, which he caught a few feet from the sideline. The 6-foot-3 wideout turned and dove through contact to hit the pylon and score.

With 9:04 left in the half, the defense wasn’t done making big stops.

IU stalled a Missouri drive at the Tigers’ 41 and forced a punt. Again, Sudfeld connected with Latimer, and the receiver took the ball 77 yards to put the Hoosiers on Missouri’s 2-yard line. Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman ran it in for his sixth touchdown of the season, and IU knotted the score with 6:31 left in the half.

The scoreline shift was short-lived.

The Tigers reeled off 14 unanswered points thanks to a methodical drive on their next try and an interception at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Kony Ealy that he returned for a 49-yard touchdown.

IU had punted just five times all season, but Erich Toth had to kick it away nine times against Missouri as drive after drive went stale. Sudfeld, who was hassled by the Tigers defensive line all night, came out in favor of redshirt sophomore Tre Roberson, who fared no better.

“We just couldn’t get going,” said Roberson, who was 8 of 14 for 148 yards and a touchdown. “They had some good rushers, they had a good defense, but we could have done some better things.”

Franklin, meanwhile, was sensational outside his two interceptions. The fifth-year senior threw for 343 yards and completed 32 of his 47 attempts for two touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

IU got just 23 yards of offense in the third quarter, and Missouri made it 38-14 at the start of the fourth quarter.

“We’re not doing our job as a defense as a whole,” said Bennett, whose unit gave up 623 yards of offense. “Didn’t come out there ready to play, I guess.”

The final 14:30 of the game, save a 68-yard touchdown catch by Shane Wynn from Roberson, another score by the Tigers and a Roberson rushing score with 10 seconds left, were an afterthought.

Note: IU was without junior left guard Bernard Taylor on Saturday. Taylor was questionable for the game. The Hoosiers got junior right tackle Peyton Eckert and sophomore defensive tackle Alex Todd back for the matchup against Missouri. Both practiced for the week before the game, but were out of the lineup in Week 3 after injuries.

smorrison@jg.net

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