After a record-breaking season, garnering multiple awards and achieving an undefeated record for the first time since 1963, the University of Indianapolis football team concluded their season in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
The Hounds hosted the Harding University Bison on Nov. 18 in Key Stadium after receiving the home field advantage as a reward for their high ranking and undefeated season. The Bison’s previous record was 8-3 and were ranked 7th.
The Bison were first on the scoreboard with a touchdown early in the first quarter. They scored another touchdown in the second before the Hounds matched them with a touchdown of their own. Next, a field goal from redshirt senior kicker Brad Schickel put the Hounds down only four points going into a lightening delay right before half time.
Coming back after the extended break, the Hounds fought to gain the lead with another touchdown, putting them up 17-14 in the third quarter. In the fourth the lead shifted back and forth before Harding scored the final touchdown of the day, ending the game 27-24.
When the regular season came to an end, the Greyhounds became GLVC Conference Champions for the sixth time and qualified for the playoffs with their 11-0 record. On Nov. 11, the Hounds won their last regular season game against the Notre Dame College Falcons, 42-27.
The day started by honoring the largest senior class of 17 graduating students, when they walked on the field with their family prior to the game to commemorate their last regular season home game. This was the program’s largest senior-class ever. Head Coach Bob Bartolomeo said the seniors played a large factor in the success of the program this season.
“We’ve got a great group of seniors,” he said. “It all starts with them. It’s their football team, and all 17 of them bring something to the table for this football team. They’ve contributed a lot that then filters down to the rest of the team.”
After the initial kick-off, the Falcons were first on the scoreboard with a touchdown on their first drive. Less than two minutes later, the Greyhounds responded with a 11-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback Jake Purichia to redshirt senior wide receiver Garrett Willis. This was Willis’ 10th touchdown of the season. Both teams scored another touchdown making the score 14-14 by the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with the Greyhound special teams making a play and putting the Falcon offense at their one yard line to start their drive. Defense then successfully forced the Falcons to punt and start UIndy’s upcoming scoring drive. Purichia connected with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Malik Higgins for a touchdown, capped off by Schickel’s extra point. Before the end of the half, the Greyhounds put up seven more points on the scoreboard with redshirt freshman Ryan Topper scoring his first collegiate touchdown. Topper came in the game after fellow wide-receiver Willis suffered a severe injury which left him out of the game. Bartolomeo commented that this was the opportunity for players who do not regularly get the spotlight to step up.
“They’ve been playing; they just haven’t been the feature guys,” Bartolomeo said. “Malik and [redshirt freshman wide receiver Aaron] Matio are going to have step up to the feature role and then the other guys are going to have to step in.”
The second half started with UIndy up 28-14 over Notre Dame College. The Greyhound offense started the half with a touchdown, extending their lead to 35-14. Both team’s defense did not allowing any more points to be scored until the fourth quarter.
The Falcons scored two touchdowns during the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. Before the end of the game, Walker found the end zone for the final touchdown of the night. The game ended 42-27 with the Hounds extending their winning streak to 11-0, currently the longest winning streak in Division II football.
According to Bartolomeo, this year’s program is one of the best that he has coached. He was honored coach of the year as well as having three members of his team win GLVC honors as well. Purichia received offensive player of the year, McKeller was freshman of the year and Shickel received special teams player of the year.