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Virginia football falls to Indiana in closely contested game, 20-16

Hoos had their shot, but fell just short on the road.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers picked up their first loss of the season in a hotly contested road game against the Indiana Hoosiers, falling 20-16. An early turnover doomed the Hoos, and they weren’t able to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit.

Bryce Perkins had another solid outing, passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for another 123 yards. Jordan Ellis finished with 63 yards rushing on 12 carries, and Hasise Dubois had 49 yards receiving.

Indiana finished with 387 total yards, including 204 and one touchdown from running back Stevie Scott. Peyton Ramsey had 150 yards and two touchdowns through the air for the Hoosiers.

The Hoos got off to a quick start. Perkins, facing a 2nd-and-16, scampered up the middle for a 47-yard gain to keep the Hoos’ first drive alive, barely tiptoeing out of bounds. He found Tanner Crowley for a first down pickup at the one yard line. Indiana’s defense stood tall against the run for the first two attempts, but Perkins rolled right out of the pocket and found Zaccheaus open in the end zone for the score and the 7-0 advantage.

Indiana responded quickly with a nine play, 75-yard drive that was kept alive by a couple third down rushes by Peyton Ramsey. Stevie Scott found a seam and rushed 40 yards for the touchdown to tie the game at seven.

Things took a sudden turn on the ensuing kickoff after Joe Reed fumbled the return and Indiana got outstanding field position and scored two plays later to take a 13-7 lead. On the extra point attempt, things got weird as the Cavaliers blocked the kick and Juan Thornhill returned the ball 98 yards for a safety to make it 13-9. Virginia couldn’t capitalize on their next possession, and Indiana took that same lead into the second quarter.

Virginia finally came up with a stop, but started deep in their own territory and were unable to get much going outside of a holding call against Indiana. The Hoos returned the favor, forcing the Hoosiers into a three-and-out on their next possession. A loss of one, a dropped pass, and a nine yard run led to another Cavalier punt and Lester Coleman boomed one inside the Indiana 20.

The Wahoo defense stood tall as they stymied Indiana’s attempts and Jordan Mack tackled their receiver in the backfield to set up favorable field position for the Hoos. That favorable field position evaporated as they were called for a chop block and faced a second and 22. Virginia punted, and Indiana took advantage of called pass interference and two pass plays to increase their lead to 20-9 at the half.

Indiana out-gained Virginia 186-130 in the first half and had a balanced attack of 94 yards rushing and 92 yards passing. The Hoos had 109 of their yards on the ground, despite Perkins frequently having time in the pocket. Perkins did pick up 87 yards on the ground in the first half, but Virginia only went to Jordan Ellis seven times for a total of 28 yards.

On the first play of the second half, Stevie Scott rattled off a 42 yard rush into Virginia territory. Chris Peace sacked Ramsey to set up a 41 yard field goal attempt, but Charles Snowden got a hand on the kick and Joey Blount recovered for the Hoos.

Snowden’s block lit a fire under the Virginia offense as they went 71 yards over eight minutes, ending with a 20 yard touchdown reception for Chris Sharp from Perkins and pulling the Hoos to within four at 20-16. On the very next offensive play for Indiana, the Hoos forced Ramsey out of the pocket, and Thornhill jumped the pass for the interception.

Virginia wasn’t able to score on its next possession, but the defense held thanks to Snowden sacking Ramsey and a pass break up from Blount. The Hoos appeared to pick up a first down on a pass to Hasise Dubois, but upon review the refs determined he was just short of the line to gain, and the Hoos punted back to the Hoosiers.

Once again the Virginia defense came up big, but the offense couldn’t convert a 3rd-and-6 and punted back to the Hoosiers. A block in the back call backed Indiana up, but the Hoosiers methodically marched forward, eating up both yardage and clock. Virginia came up with a huge third down stop, but got the ball back with a paltry 3:23 left on the clock.

Virginia trucked to the 32 yard line before it looked like Perkins threw an interception and time ran out, but Indiana was called for pass interference as they ran the clock out, so the Hoos got one final shot at the end zone. Perkins pass went incomplete, and Indiana got the win.

Next up, Virginia hosts Ohio on Saturday.