UIndy football advances in NCAA playoffs
The University of Indianapolis football team made history on Nov. 17 in front of a crowd of 6,235 people at Key Stadium, defeating the No.8 Midwestern State University Mustangs, 31-14. The win was the Greyhounds’ first-ever National Collegiate Athletic Association Division-II football playoff win in program history.
What was anticipated as a highly contested offensive game between two teams that entered the contest as two of the best in the country in offense, began as more of a defensive battle.
In the first quarter, both teams remained scoreless, and were unable to establish any long drives. UIndy finally responded midway through the second quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Chris Mills, following a 10-play, 75-yard drive down the field. MSU attempted to respond before the end of the half, but a last second touchdown throw toward the end zone by the Mustangs was defended by UIndy’s secondary, and the Greyhounds went into the half up by seven.
MSU started the second half with the ball and wasted no time tying up the score at seven with a 51-yard touchdown run, following a drive that lasted a little over a minute. The Mustangs began their next possession on the Greyhounds’ 32-yard line, following a 31-yard loss in result of a bad snap on what was supposed to be a punt by UIndy. The Mustangs took advantage of the short distance between themselves and the end zone, and scored with a 5-yard touchdown run that put them ahead of the Greyhounds 14-7.
Head Football Coach Bob Bartolomeo said that although the score changed quickly, the team remained calm.
“We knew not to panic,” Bartolomeo said. “We knew what the problem was. We just had to make some adjustments.”
Following MSU’s 14-0 run, the Greyhounds made adjustments that led to an 82-yard drive, finished off by a 4-yard touchdown run by redshirt sophomore running back Matt Ripp, evening the score at 14.
In the fourth quarter, the Greyhounds finished with their strongest quarter of the game by scoring 17 unanswered points. The Greyhounds’ first score of the quarter came from an 89-yard drive that was capped off by another touchdown run from Ripp which put the Greyhounds up 21-14.
Ripp’s performance in the game was a career-high for the running back, as he rushed for a total of 143 yards and two touchdowns.
“I just give all the credit to my offensive line,” Ripp said. “They opened up the holes for me to run. I knew I needed to step up, knowing [junior running back] Klay [Fiechter] had a banged up knee. And I just went out there and just ran through the holes.”
On the next MSU possession, following the touchdown by the Greyhounds, redshirt senior linebacker Max Davis caused a forced fumble that was recovered by redshirt senior defensive lineman Justin Robinson on the Mustang’s 24-yard line. The Greyhounds capitalized on the turnover by hitting a 19-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore kicker Scott Miller and extended their lead by 10. Davis, who had 11 tackles in the game and two forced fumbles, said that the Greyhounds’ defense kept things simple.
“We didn’t really do anything special,” Davis said. “We knew that we had to corral their running attack. Our defense is pretty simple, and it’s a defense that everybody on our staff understands. We made plays when they were presented, and we made adjustments on the sideline when we could, and I think that’s the best thing that we did all day.”
The Greyhounds’ last score of the game came with 2:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Fiechter, despite not being fully healthy, scored on a touchdown run from seven yards out, making the final score 31-14.
Following the victory, Bartolomeo said that the team was excited about the victory and explained what it meant to the program to defeat a team such as MSU, who had playoff experience in previous seasons.
“It was a great program win,” Bartolomeo said. “I think we made a statement because to be honest, I’d say a lot of people doubted whether we should be hosting this football game. There is some self-satisfaction there.”
Mills, who finished 17-of-29 with 147 passing yards including 54 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, appreciated the Greyhound fans’ support and encouraged them to travel to the next game if they could.
“During the game, they [UIndy fans] were unbelievable,” Mills said. “Hats off to our Hound Nation. And I hope you guys, if you can, come out to Colorado. But I know it’s far. I’m just glad you guys support us, and thank you.”
The Greyhounds will now advance to the second round of the NCAA Division-II football playoffs, where they will travel to take on top-ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo. Kickoff for the game is scheduled to take place this Saturday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m.