BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Jordan Howard ran for 203 yards and Nate Sudfeld threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns Saturday to lead Indiana to a 38-35 victory over Western Kentucky before a crowd of 44,823 at Memorial Stadium.
Howard, the Big Ten’s leading rusher coming into the game, ran for 203 yards on 31 carries. On the game’s final drive with Indiana clinging to a three-point lead and trying to run out the clock, Howard carried the ball seven times for 39 yards.
His final carry, an 8-yard run, took the ball to the Western Kentucky 1 and Indiana opted to take a knee on the game’s final play.
Indiana (3-0) opened the season with three wins in a row for the first time in five seasons under head coach Kevin Wilson.
For the third time this season, Indiana trailed at halftime. It was the second time that the Hoosiers had trailed by 11 points at the break. Western Kentucky (2-1) had used two touchdowns in the final 4 minutes of the first half to take a 28-17 lead at the half.
In the first half alone, the Hilltoppers amassed 395 yards of offense.
But the trademark for Indiana this season has been good third-quarter players. Saturday, IU scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter. The first two touchdowns were set up by interceptions from true freshman safety Jonathan Crawford.
Indiana has now outscored its first three opponents by a total of 44-0 in the third quarter.
Sudfeld, who completed 20 of 27 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns, threw a pair of TD passes for IU’s first two third-quarter scores. The first was a 36-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Mitchell Paige and the other a 23-yard pass to Simmie Cobbs. IU tailback Devine Redding had a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to cap the scoring.
Wilson opted to gamble with 10:15 to play in the game and Indiana with a fourth-and-4 situation at the Western Kentucky 13. Instead of taking a field goal that would potentially put IU up by 13, he had Sudfeld attempt a pass in the flat to Howard that went incomplete.
Western Kentucky then marched 86 yards in 14 plays to get within three at 38-35.
Indiana then ran out the clock with a drive that consumed 12 plays and nearly six minutes of the clock.
Brandon Doughty completed 35 of 46 passes for 484 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for Western Kentucky. Tyler Higbee had 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown and Taywan Taylor had nine catches for 196 yards and a score.
The two teams combined for more than 1,200 yards of total offense. Indiana had 639 and Western Kentucky totaled 568 yards.