News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Softball Scene

November 18, 2007

Hoosiers may have fulfilled Hoeppner’s legacy

BLOOMINGTON — Kellen Lewis didn’t even see the final play as he hugged Jane Hoeppner and then ran out on the field, sprinting nowhere in particular. The student section stormed the field, creating a large mass of people radiating around the state of Indiana painted on the 50-yard line.

Memorial Stadium had a sellout crowd for the Purdue game for the first time since 1989, creating post-game traffic jams three hours after the game was over. Austin Starr — the game’s hero — found himself holding the Old Oaken Bucket aloft as students chanted his name.

Marcus Thigpen basked in the mayhem, never believing he would see a scene like this at Indiana. James Hardy rode on the shoulders of several fans, shaking hands with students like a beloved politician running for president. Senior fullback Josiah Sears held the Bucket for the first time in his career as Hoosier fans stretched for a small brush with the celebrated trophy.

Indiana coach Bill Lynch said it was great to see a post-game locker room where players were crying — out of joy.

In the words of Jane Hoeppner, Saturday was Terry Hoeppner’s legacy. Indiana likely fulfilled its former coach’s exhortation to “Play 13” as the Hoosiers will probably play in a post-season bowl for the first time since the 1993 Independence Bowl after their 27-24 victory over Purdue on Saturday. Indiana (7-5, 3-5) defeated Purdue (7-5, 3-5) for the first time since 2001.

“[Terry] would be so proud of those kids,” Lynch said after the game. “Jane put the “I” in the bucket in the locker room after the game. Terry loved Bucket week. He loved the rivalry and loved every part of it.”

After drilling the game-winning kick, Starr said the first thing he thought of was Hoeppner and pointed toward the heavens. After the game, he found Hoeppner’s daughters and told them that this win was for their father. Even as the fans chanted his name, Starr quickly began chanting “Terr-y Hoep-pner” to recognize the man he considered to be the game’s hero.

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