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Virginia falls to Indiana behind struggling offense, 34-17

Ramsey has incredible day for Hoosiers as the Hoos can’t find rhythm.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia had an opportunity to make a statement this week against Indiana, but fell short 34-17 as the Wahoo offense was unable to come up with enough firepower to overcome the Hoosiers.

Kurt Benkert went 39-for-65 for 259 yards and a touchdown and Jordan Ellis punched in one rushing touchdown for the Hoos. For the second week in a row, Virginia struggled in the run game, finishing with just 55 yards on 25 carries. Benkert attempted more downfield shots this week, but was off the mark on all of them with his longest connection of the day coming for 20 yards to Olamide Zaccheaus.

Indiana was held to just 318 yards one week after gaining 437 against Ohio State’s stout defense. Peyton Ramsey was stellar, going 16-for-20 for 173 yards and two touchdowns, taking the place of starter Richard Lagow.

With the loss, the Hoos fall to 1-1, with UConn and Boise State remaining in the non-conference before conference play starts.

Virginia’s defense was stellar in the first quarter, limiting Indiana to just 35 yards and not allowing Lagow or the Hoosier offense to find any rhythm. The Hoos threatened on their third drive of the game, getting down to the 18 yard line before failing to convert on a fake field goal attempt.

First year AJ Mejia gave the home team a 3-0 lead with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter. Then the wheels fell off.

Indiana switched to quarterback Ramsey, which completely revamped the Hoosier offense. Ramsey went 6-for-6 in the first half for 68 yards and a touchdown in the air and another 39 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Hoosiers took the lead 7-3 on a 29 yard reception by Simmie Cobbs, then extended the lead on Ramsey’s 26-yard touchdown rush.

Virginia had just three first half first downs to Indiana’s 17, and Kurt Benkert converted just 14 of 24 pass attempts for only 85 yards. The Hoos were out-gained in the first half 165-111.

The defense stood up tall on Indiana’s first drive of the second half, setting up good field position for Benkert and the offense. Virginia took advantage with an eight play, 55 yard drive, capped by Jordan Ellis’s 12-yard touchdown run.

Indiana responded with a field goal to make it 20-10, but it could have been much worse if not for a clutch sack by Micah Kiser. Virginia put together a bit of a drive in their ensuing possession, but stalled just before midfield.

Ramsey started the game 11-for-11 before finally missing a pass with 2:37 left to play in the third quarter.

Indiana appeared to have put the game away with a one play drive late in the third. Virginia was unable to get out of their own ten yard line, forcing a short punt that Indiana was able to return to the Virginia 32 yard line. Ramsey found Donavan Hale on the first play of the drive, connecting for a 32-yard touchdown pass.

Things looked bleak in the fourth quarter when Indiana appeared to have a forced fumble-turned touchdown return when Greg Gooch blindsided Benkert, but upon review it was determined (rightly) to be targeting. Benkert found Joe Reed two plays later and Virginia made it 27-17 with the score and over 12 minutes left.

Virginia had a chance to mount a comeback, down just ten points with under eight minutes remaining, but the Hoos were unable to move the ball from their own three yard line. The Hoosiers returned the ensuing punt 44 yards, effectively ending the game.

After 42 straight games with a turnover, Virginia has now gone two straight games without committing a turnover.