12:00 PM ET, September 15, 2007
Memorial Stadium, BLOOMINGTON, IN
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Kellen Lewis teased the Akron defense Saturday.
He'd drop back in the pocket, look down the field and then slither his way past oncoming defenders. He did this over and over. The Zips couldn't stop him, corner him or even slow him down, and Lewis made them pay.
Indiana's sophomore quarterback threw three touchdowns and nearly set a new Indiana rushing record for quarterbacks by gaining 199 yards on 18 carries as he led the Hoosiers past Akron 41-24.
"I kind of know how (West Virginia quarterback) Pat White feels every week," Lewis said. "I didn't know I was that close to 200 or I might have done a quarterback sneak on that last play instead of taking a knee."
Still unbeaten Indiana was in a joking mood afterward, but the reality was Lewis gave them a glimpse of what they may need to do when they open Big Ten play next week against Illinois. Indiana is 3-0 for the second time this decade and only the third time since 1994.
But Indiana had long anticipated this tactic.
With a deep corps of receivers and a less dynamic ground game, until Saturday, Akron seemed content to drop extra defenders into coverage and dare the Hoosiers to run.
The problem: Lewis constantly duped Akron, then ran around the oncoming tacklers and into huge holes. Eventually, the defense wore down and Lewis produced the second-highest rushing total ever by an Indiana quarterback. Only Antwaan Randle El's record-setting 210-yard performance against Minnesota on Oct. 21, 2000, was better.
Indiana finished with 338 yards rushing.
"We tried a few things," linebacker Brion Stokes said. "But our main thing was to shut down the run and stop the quarterback, and we really we didn't do either."
Lewis provided more than numbers. He was having fun -- even talking about a throwback to his high school days when he could simply sprint past opposing players and into the open field.
And his shifty moves and improvisational skills made it a magical day. Lewis ran for the two decisive second-half touchdowns and was 19-of-24 for 137 yards and three touchdowns through the air -- numbers that might have been better had the Zips (1-2) not been called for a handful of pass interference penalties.
"It got to the point where coach just said, 'Take what they give you,' and it seemed like it would be runs up the middle or scramble rolls or whatever," Lewis said. "If they're going to drop eight guys and only rush three, I guess I'll have to be the leading rusher on the team."
Lewis got the Hoosiers jump-started, building a quick 10-0 lead, and had a chance to blow the game open when they started their third possession on the Akron 32. Instead, Ray Fisher caught a swing pass, ran backward and was tackled for a 17-yard loss.
Indiana wound up punting and Akron used the momentum from a key stop and the insertion of backup quarterback Carlton Jackson, who replaced the ineffective Chris Jacquemain in the second quarter, to rally.
Jackson led the Zips on three straight scoring drives, getting a 20-yard field goal from Igor Iveljic, then ran for a 3-yard TD and throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kris Kasparek over the middle to give Akron a 17-10 lead late in the first half.
"I came in and had a few opportunities to make some big plays and I was fortunate enough to make them," Jackson said. "I feel like as a team, we responded, too."
With Lewis in control, however, things changed again.
He led the Hoosiers on a 77-yard drive, capping it with a screen to Fisher, who made a nifty cut to elude one tackler before sprinting 24 yards to the end zone and tying the score at 17 with 1:20 left in the half.
Lewis opened the second half by taking the Hoosiers on back-to-back scores. Austin Starr made a short field goal to give Indiana the lead, and Lewis' 3-yard TD run made it 27-17.
When Jackson answered the challenge with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jabari Arthur early in the fourth quarter, Lewis pulled out another trick -- sprinting 17 yards for a score that gave Indiana control with a 34-24 lead and 6:25 left.
It ended with a 21-yard TD pass to Hardy that seemed to sum up Lewis' memorable day.
"Coach came in and gave us a fiery speech and I kind of took it to heart," Lewis said. "I said if we're struggling to run the ball, if we can't do this, we can't do that, then give me a chance to have the ball every play. I wasn't going to hesitate."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-13||9-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||1-1|
|FG||10:28||Austin Starr 30 Yd||0||3|
|TD||07:06||Josiah Sears 1 Yd Pass From Kellen Lewis (Austin Starr Kick)||0||10|
|FG||12:55||Igor Iveljic 20 Yd||3||10|
|TD||07:18||Carlton Jackson 3 Yd Run (Igor Iveljic Kick)||10||10|
|TD||03:45||Kris Kasparek 21 Yd Pass From Carlton Jackson (Igor Iveljic Kick)||17||10|
|TD||01:20||Ray Fisher 24 Yd Pass From Kellen Lewis (Austin Starr Kick)||17||17|
|FG||10:53||Austin Starr 21 Yd||17||20|
|TD||04:04||Kellen Lewis 3 Yd Run (Austin Starr Kick)||17||27|
|TD||09:36||Jabari Arthur 26 Yd Pass From Carlton Jackson (Igor Iveljic Kick)||24||27|
|TD||06:25||Kellen Lewis 17 Yd Run (Austin Starr Kick)||24||34|
|TD||02:43||James Hardy 21 Yd Pass From Kellen Lewis (Austin Starr Kick)||24||41|