Heading into its third game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 20, the University of Indianapolis football team was looking to get back to its winning ways, after dropping an uncharacteristic 19-14 loss to Saint Xavier University the week before. The Greyhounds had no trouble making that happen, as they defeated the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats, a newly added associate member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, in a lopsided blowout, 48-14.
The matchup against the Bearcats was the Greyhounds’ first conference game of the year, and on paper, it appeared as if the game would be a shootout between two statistically impressive offenses. The Bearcats, a week ago, were ranked first in the GLVC in total offense, and had the second-best passing offense in the country in all of NCAA Division II, averaging 495 yards per game. Yet, despite their early success in the season, the Bearcats did not find the same success against UIndy, putting up a total of just 302 yards and two touchdowns, compared to the Greyhounds’ offense, who put together a total of 477 yards and six touchdowns on the night.
A major cause of the Bearcats’ below average performance on offense was the pressure created by the Greyhounds’ defense on Bearcats’ quarterback, Willie Tindal, who was sacked three times and threw an interception to senior defensive back Koby Orris during the contest.
Heading into the game, junior defensive lineman Lee Campbell said that creating such pressure would be a significant part of UIndy’s plan to contain the Bearcat’s offense.
“If we get pressure and sacks, there is no way this quarterback is going to throw 400 yards, like he has been the past couple of weeks,” said Campbell prior to Saturday’s win.
Campbell’s prediction held true for the Greyhounds, as the opposing quarterback threw for just a mere 158 passing yards in the contest, after averaging 421 yards a game, which was first amongst every quarterback in all of NCAA Division II a week ago.
On offense, the Greyhounds did not experience the same statistical struggles as they had the week before, as both redshirt senior running back Matt Ripp and redshirt sophomore running back Andrew Walker each ran for over 100 yards and claimed a pair of rushing touchdowns. Walker finished with a total of 117 rushing yards on the ground, while Ripp finished right behind him with 102 rushing yards of his own.
Redshirt junior quarterback Connor Barthel also had a statistically solid game through the air, as the team captain threw for 14-of-20 and 208 yards, while also finding the end zone twice to add on to the Greyhounds’ superior advantage on the scoreboard. A significant amount of those passes by Barthel went to his go-to redshirt junior wide receiver Reece Horn, who after being in question all week after suffering an injury the week before, caught six passes for 120 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown reception right before the end of the first half.
Senior kicker Scott Miller also added to the Greyhounds’ final score, chipping in six points from two field goals during the first half. Both successful attempts came from fairly close range, as the veteran connected from 30 and 25 yards out, respectively.
Prior to Saturdays win, Head Football Coach Bob Bartolomeo said that the team was eager to get back to such results after taking its first loss of the season the week before.
“We don’t get beat very often around here, and it was just a little bit of a culture shock,” he said. “A lot of frustration [was experienced], but I thought that we had a good week of practice this [past] week, and I think we are ready to play again and redeem ourselves.”
After having to travel on the road three-straight weeks to open the season, going 2-1, the Greyhounds will return to Indianapolis for its home opener against the Hillsdale College Chargers, who are also 2-1 and familiar with the Greyhounds, as an old conference foe from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Last season, the Greyhounds snuck out a 17-14 road victory over the Chargers, after nearly losing a 17-0 lead in the second half.
According to Bartolomeo, the team is happy to be back at home in an environment where they are used to finding success.
“We don’t lose very often at Key [Stadium], so I’m hoping that continues,” he said. “We take a lot of pride in playing at home.”
The first home game of the season will also take place on the same date as Family Day at the university, and Bartolomeo said that he hopes many Greyhound fans will show up to Key Stadium that evening to support the team.
“I am excited for our student body to see us play. It is the first time a lot of the freshmen in this big class are able to go to a football game,” he mentioned. “Hopefully we get people out there supporting us, [because] we need all the support we can get. We have to make Key Stadium a place where people do not like to come and play, and that includes everybody, including the football team, the student body and all the other people involved.”
In-region action between the Greyhounds and Chargers will get underway from Key Stadium this Saturday, Sept. 27, with kickoff scheduled to take place at 6 p.m.