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IU displays complete performance, routs Eastern Illinois

BLOOMINGTON – Tom Allen yelled at running back Ronnie Walker to get out of bounds. The IU head coach wanted Walker to stop the clock with halftime quickly approaching.

Whop Philyor shakes off a Eastern Illinois defender Saturday at Memorial Stadium. (Jared Rigdon/HN)

Then suddenly he was yelling the opposite. He called for Walker to stay in, seeing he would streak down the sideline for a touchdown.

It was a sight Allen saw quite often in the Hoosier’ home opener — an IU player celebrating in the endzone. He saw it seven times.

A week ago, IU won by 10 in a game littered with mistakes keeping Ball State in the game.

On Saturday, the Hoosiers were a drag race car. When the green light flashed on, IU took off out of the gate, exhaust blazing.

As a drag racer accelerates to top speed instantaneously, so did the Hoosiers. They started fast and cruised to the finish, routing Eastern Illinois 52-0.

“It’s hard to shut somebody out,” Allen said. “I don’t care who it is. We play who’s scheduled on our schedule.”

The students hadn’t even filed all the way in. IU got the ball to start the game and took less than four minutes to go 59 yards for a Miles Marshall touchdown catch.

Look down for a moment and miss IU’s defense force a three and out, pushing Eastern Illinois back for a six yard loss.

Four minutes, nine plays and 68 yards later, it was 14-0.

Look down again and miss IU push EIU back seven more yards before blocking the ensuing punt.

32 seconds later IU led 21-0.

The flames roaring from the back of the car switched off, top speed already reached. Flying down the track and out to a lead the Hoosiers didn’t need the engine anymore.

IU closed the first half with two straight scoring drives to bring the lead to 35-0 at the half. And that’s before scoring another touchdown on its first drive of the second half.

In the midst of the blowout became a game featuring many firsts.

Marshall made his first reception, and it went for a touchdown. Sampson James scored his first career touchdown. Jack Tuttle played for the first time in college. Charles Campbell attempted his first field goal, and he made it. It was a 48-yard kick, no less.

And it was the first touchdown for Cole Gest after another an ACL injury that kept him out all of 2018, the second season-ending injury of his career.

“It’s great, it made me real happy, jumping up and down,” quarterback Michael Penix said of his teammates’ firsts.

IU outgained Eastern Illinois 555 to 116. Eastern Illinois didn’t eclipse 100 yards until just before midway into the fourth quarter.

The individual stats weren’t gaudy. They didn’t need to be. IU used all three quarterbacks. Seven players had rushes. 12 receivers had catches.

Penix was the one who started the engine in the first half, before leaving the drivers seat and handing it over to Peyton Ramsey.

Penix completed 14 of 20 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He had two mental mistakes that turned into interceptions against Ball State. He had none against Eastern Illinois.

Ramsey went 13-for-14 for 226 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Allen wanted to make sure Ramsey got action before Big Ten play, where he might be needed in a crucial spot. He didn’t want Ramsey’s first action to come in a Big Ten game.

“It’s a new system for him too even though he’s been here,” Allen said.

Stevie Scott, the team’s leading rusher, only had 61 yards, but it came on just 12 carries, averaging 5.1 yards per rush. He also had 26 receiving yards. The first Eastern Illinois tackler was almost never able to bring down Scott.

Against Ball State, Kane Wommack’s defense had 25 missed tackles for 181 yards. Those virtually disappeared against Eastern Illinois.

Instead Wommack’s defense lived up to its “Swarm D” mantra, swarming in the backfield, holding Eastern Illinois without a first down in the first quarter, and with negative total yards for much of that same time.

“It was a big emphasis all week throughout practice,” defensive lineman James Head said. “Trusting in our defense, trusting what the coaches are telling us.”

The only stain on the defensive shutdown was the lack of a turnover, breaking a FBS-leading 19-game streak.

Big strides were taken in cleaning up mistakes against Ball State. They had to be. They had to be made now. Allen said it best himself.

“The Buckeyes are coming to town.”

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