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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 15, 2018 1:10 am

Crimson 37 Cream 28

Hoosier offense edges out defense

Sophomore QB runs for a 55-yard score

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – During the Cream and Crimson spring game on Saturday, Indiana football coach Tom Allen put in place a rule barring defenders from hitting the quarterback. A play would be dead as soon as a defender got in tackling position to make the tackle.

The regulation was meant to both protect the quarterbacks from injury and force the Hoosiers' two mobile quarterbacks, Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix Jr., to play more from the pocket. Ramsey seemingly didn't get the memo.

The sophomore from Cincinnati made the most electrifying play of the annual scrimmage, breaking a touchdown run of close to 55 yards on a read-option keeper in the first quarter. The run was the Crimson team's only touchdown, but it was enough to secure a 37-28 win at John Mellencamp Pavilion.  

“I was telling (my teammates) after I got on the sideline it was probably my longest run of the spring,” said Ramsey, who raced through a huge hole on the right side on the play. “I just saw some green grass and took off. It was a good way to end the spring.”

Other than Ramsey's big run, the two quarterbacks mainly stayed in the pocket. Ramsey was 6 for 9 passing, completing mostly short throws in the flat, while Penix Jr. was just 4 for 11, but more aggressive in trying to get the ball down the field. Three of the true freshman's completions went to receiver Whop Philyor, who unofficially totaled 35 yards.

Penix Jr. is an early enrollee at Indiana who came to spring practice to compete for the starting job while many of his classmates haven't yet graduated high school.

“The biggest thing (for me) has been the speed of the game,” the Tampa native said. “Everything is quicker (than high school). But once you get the plays down, you just trust your abilities and everything slows down. I feel like everything's slowing down now.”

Penix Jr. led his Team Cream on one touchdown drive, completing a 20-yard pass to tight end Austin Dorris to put the team inside the 10-yard line. Senior running back Ricky Brookins punched the ball in from five yards out to tie the score at 7 at the end of the first quarter. It was one of several impressive runs for Brookins, who had a 15-yard burst on the same drive.

The touchdowns from Ramsey and Brookins were the only two of the game, with the rest of the scoring coming on kicks. Between quarters, kickers added points to their teams' scores with progressively longer field goals. Jared Smolar made several kicks, including a 45-yarder in the second quarter, to help lead Team Crimson to a win. 

“I just sensed a good focus from our guys,” Allen said. “This is an important day for us because it's the next opportunity to improve. We got so many new faces, so many young guys, that every rep's critical. I'm really excited about the way we played on both sides. I thought our guys executed fairly well. They played hard on both sides and competed against each other.”

As expected, Saturday brought heavy rain to Bloomington. The storm didn't deter several hundred members of players' families, who watched the game from temporary bleachers set up in one of the end zones. One group of parents even tailgated in the parking lot with an RV.

“It's our tradition, we all get the families together before (the game), enjoy each others' company and catch up on the children,” said tailgater Dave Wattercutter, father of senior tight end and Bishop Dwenger graduate Ryan Wattercutter. “You get close to these kids and you want to see their growth in the last year.”

The scrimmage was the culmination of Indiana's spring practice schedule, which began almost six weeks ago and included 15 practices.