October 2, 2010

Chappell's offensive gem not enough for Hoosiers

If someone would have told Indiana head coach Bill Lynch prior to Saturday's game against Michigan that his starting quarterback would break three school records , his offense would hold the ball for 41:47 and his team would run more than double the amount of offensive plays as their counterparts, and still lose, the fourth-year coach may not have believed it.

But as the old adage goes, "That's why they play the game."

Despite 568 total yards of offense and completely dominating the time of possession, the Hoosiers still fell short to the No. 19 Wolverines, dropping a 42-35 shootout in front of a sold-out Memorial Stadium of 52,929.

"They controlled the game with their offense, which is something that worried us coming in here," Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "The stats are interesting, huh? Thirty-five first downs for them to 15 for us. They ran 98 plays to 45 for us. I don't like seeing that. But the most important one is the win, so we'll take that. Any Big Ten road win is a good win."

In spite of preparing for the offensive threat, even the Michigan defense could not have expected what they saw from IU quarterback Ben Chappell. The senior crushed three school records, including yardage, passing attempts and passing completions. He finished his passing onslaught by throwing 45-for-64 for 480 yards and three touchdowns.

Jay Rodgers set the previous yardage record on Sept. 13, 1997 against Lynch's Ball State team with 408 yards, while Blake Powers held the single-game record for completions and attempts with 37-for-57, respectively, against Iowa on Oct. 15, 2005.

"I think (Chappell) is one of those (special) guys," Lynch said. "He'd stand back there and throw it that many times against a good Michigan team. He put it on the money and made some huge plays in some critical situations."

One of the more impressive throws from Chappell came with just four seconds remaining in the first half. With his team trailing 21-14, Lynch opted to forgo a 17-yard field goal and roll the dice on his already-rolling offense. The gamble paid off when Chappell hit receiver Damarlo Belcher for a diving catch in the end zone.

"I told Coach to go for it and he was like 'Alright,'" Belcher said. "I'm glad he had the hope in me to go for it…They were sitting on the slants all game pretty well and we ran a little double move. I ran in for the slant, the corner went in, Ben rolled out and it was right there. Ben made a good pass."

The score was exactly what the doctor ordered, as it allowed the Hoosiers to take a 21-21 halftime tie into the locker room.

"We definitely had momentum when we came into the locker room," Belcher said. "It was what we needed so we could come back out and finish strong."

However the Hoosiers did not finish quite as strong as they'd have liked in the final half.

After Chappell orchestrated a 13-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game 35-35 with 1:15 remaining, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson continued to slice up the Indiana offense. He led the Wolverines on a five-play, 73-yard drive in just 58 seconds to give UM the lead they would not relinquish.

A final Hoosier drive fell short when Chappell's last pass was batted down by Michigan's Jonas Mouton as time expired.

It was another close conference loss for the Hoosiers during the Lynch Era, who were still reeling from a trio of one-score losses last Big Ten season.

"(The close loss) is very frustrating," said wide receiver Tandon Doss, who finished with 15 receptions for 221 yards. "We have worked on (finishing) since last year. Throughout the winter, throughout the summer, it was something we emphasized. But we didn't get it done tonight. Hopefully next week we will."

The road won't get any easier for the Hoosiers, though, as they will travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes next Saturday. Ohio State is allowing less than 170 passing yards per game on the young season.

Despite the loss, Lynch is still optimistic of his team's future.

"We'll learn from the mistakes an the plays we didn't make and we'll get ready to go play this Saturday," Lynch said. "There's a lot of football left, a lot of football left in this year."

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