BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Indiana waited nearly two decades to
party like this. So why worry about another 20 seconds?
James Hardy had a freshman year to remember in 2005. Until Saturday, he was having a sophomore season to forget. The second-year, 6-foot-7 wideout, who was suspended for two games earlier in the year, was on the receiving end of three Kellen Lewis touchdown passes, the last of which provided the final margin in Indiana's 31-28 upset of No. 15 Iowa.
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Players stormed the field and fireworks went off before the
Hoosiers' biggest upset in almost 20 years was official, but there
was nothing premature about Saturday's stunning 31-28 upset over
No. 15 Iowa.
As officials spotted the ball for the final time, the scoreboard
clock was at 22 seconds and with the Hawkeyes out of timeouts, all
that remained was a celebration of the Hoosiers' biggest win since
beating No. 9 Ohio State 31-10 on Oct. 10, 1987.
"It's a little crazy. I pretty much lost my voice on the field
celebrating," quarterback Kellen Lewis said leading his second
straight fourth-quarter comeback. "It's just fun right now."
The Hoosiers (4-3, 2-1) included the fans, too.
After shaking hands with Iowa's players, players sprinted toward
the student section. Some jumped into the crowd, hugging classmates
as they sang the school fight song.
But this was no mere victory for Indiana (4-3, 2-1); it was a
milestone in a season that has included a loss to a Division I-AA
school, coach Terry Hoeppner's second brain surgery in less than
nine months and a two-game suspension of their top player, James
On Saturday, those were distant memories.
Hardy delivered the big game Indiana needed, becoming the first
Hoosier to catch three TD passes in a game in nearly a
quarter-century. He had eight catches for 104 yards, easily his
best performance of the season.
Lewis, too, was productive before getting hoarse. After beating
Illinois with a last-minute drive a week ago, he again rallied
Indiana with a 20-yard TD pass to Hardy with 9:51 left for the
winning score and also beat the clock by marching Indiana 50 yards
in 51 seconds for a field goal just before halftime. He finished
19-of-25 for 255 yards.
The Hoosiers also overcame the loss of their top running back
and the nation's top kick returner, Marcus Thigpen, for most of the
second half with what appeared to be a right leg injury. His
replacement, Demetrius McCray, carried 13 times for 84 yards.
It was the kind of day that impressed Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.
"They've done a great job getting on their feet and doing what
they have to do," Ferentz said. "They have to feel great what
they've done the last couple weeks."
The loss likely ended any outside chance Iowa (5-2, 2-2) had of
contending for a Big Ten title.
Drew Tate was 23-of-40 for 292 yards with one touchdown and one
interception and Damian Sims, filling in for the injured Albert
Young, carried 22 times for 94 yards and two TDs.
Iowa even had 467 yards in offense, but it wasn't enough to
extend their three-game winning streak in the series.
The Hoosiers contended with their own problems.
Iowa used first-half fumbles by Josiah Sears and Lewis to score
14 points and eventually build a 21-7 lead.
Just as it did against Illinois last week, Indiana steadied
"You can never take the field not prepared to give your best,"
Ferentz said. "If you do, you leave the door open against a team
that's hustling, that's very spirited and very well-coached and
that's what Indiana is."
Lewis' 2-yard run with 3:25 left in the half got the comeback
started. Then Austin Starr hit a career-long 46-yard field goal
into a brisk, swirling wind as the half ended to make it 21-17.
"The field goal right before the half turned out to be pretty
big," Hoeppner said.
Indiana took its first lead on Hardy's diving 23-yard TD catch
late in the third quarter, but Tate responded with a methodical
77-yard drive that ended with Sims' 1-yard run to give Iowa a 28-24
lead early in the fourth quarter.
But the Lewis-to-Hardy connection had one more answer. On
third-and-6 from the Iowa 20, Hardy broke open in the end zone and
Lewis threw a perfect pass to give Indiana a 31-28 lead. Hardy is
the first Indiana player with three TD receptions in one game since
Duane Gunn on Oct. 8, 1983, against Minnesota.
"He's got great hands and you can't coach 6-6, 6-7 height,"
Lewis said. "So any time they were blitzing and they were going to
leave a defensive back on an island, we said we'll take our shot
with James Hardy."
Tate had one more chance, but his final pass was deflected by
Andy Brodell and Hoosiers safety Will Meyers made a diving,
one-handed interception to seal the win.
After Ferentz challenged the call and it was upheld, the party
"I had an interesting call on the field -- Ben Roethlisberger
called my son's phone," said Hoeppner, who coached the Steelers
quarterback at Miami of Ohio. "He just wanted to call and
congratulate me. Normally, I wouldn't take a phone call at that
point, but I'd take that phone call."