Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson pushed for the season-opener to be moved to Thursday to allow extra time to prepare for Navy’s triple-option offense.
It didn’t work.
Navy pounded out 444 yards rushing on 70 attempts en route to a 41-35 victory over the Hoosiers on Saturday night.
The Midshipmen (1-0) improved to 3-3 in season openers under coach Ken Niumatalolo and won in Bloomington for the first time in three tries.
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds didn’t even attempt a pass until well into the second quarter. He didn’t need to, the way he and his teammates were running roughshod over the Hoosiers (1-1).
Reynolds ran for 127 yards on 32 carries, scoring three times, and Darius Staten added 106 yards on nine attempts. The Midshipmen almost had a third 100-yard rusher, which would have been a program first, but Geoffrey Whiteside finished with 97 yards on nine carries.
In last year’s 31-30 Navy win at Annapolis, the Midshipmen gouged the Hoosiers for 257 yards on the ground. Navy needed just a little over a half to top that on Saturday.
Tre Roberson started at quarterback for Indiana for the second straight game, but his two drives didn’t go well. IU went three-and-out on its first possession and four-and-out on its second, helping Navy jump out to a 14-0 lead.
Nate Sudfeld drove the Hoosiers down the field on their third drive, but was intercepted at the Navy 3 by Chris Johnson. He returned it to the Navy 30, and the Midshipmen’s ensuing drive ended with a 23-yard field goal by Nick Sloan.
That put IU in a 17-0 hole, and with Navy answering every IU score with one of their own, the Hoosiers couldn’t mount a comeback.
Sudfeld was 31-of-42 for 363 yards, four touchdowns and the interception. He also ran for 35 yards on six carries.
Kofi Hughes had six receptions for 102 yards and a score, and Ted Bolser had two touchdown receptions and 56 yards on five catches. Shane Wynn also caught a touchdown pass from Sudfeld, finishing with four catches for 58 yards.
IU did have some success against Navy’s running game at times, stopping the Midshipmen on third-and-goal at the 1 when Navy ran a more conventional offense. But the Hoosiers couldn’t stop Navy’s triple-option attack.
Wilson spoke openly of the "lost week" that preparing for Navy would be, because no one else on IU’s schedule runs the offense.
IU’s defensive players and staff said it would be important to watch their keys and maintain their responsibilities against Navy. It didn’t work, though.
Navy played at Indiana in 1985 and ‘86, losing both games with current commandant of midshipmen Bill Byrne at quarterback.