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College Football: A Rusty Michael Penix Came Through for the Indiana Hoosiers When it Mattered Most in Their Upset of Penn State

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College Football: A Rusty Michael Penix Came Through for the Indiana Hoosiers When it Mattered Most in Their Upset of Penn State

2020-10-26 14:28:51


-by Amanda Pavelka, Contributing Writer; Image: Indiana quarterback Michael Penix dives for game-winning score. (Image Source: Marc Lebryk / USA Today)

Bloomington, IN—It was November 2nd, 2019, and Indiana quarterback Michael Penix made an exit off the field mid-first half. A sternoclavicular injury would cause him not to suit up for contest again the rest of the season. Questions swirled about his durability and whether or not he could survive a Big Ten season.

Fast forward to Saturday, almost a year later, a 20-pound stronger Penix took the field in what was one of the toughest matchups of his IU career, against No. 8 ranked Penn State. 

The first three quarters of Penix’s first game back were a struggle, to say the least. Indiana was ahead despite his struggles. He was just 7-of-14 for 60 yards and an interception. In their words…very pedestrian.

“He (Penix) did not play very well,” coach Tom Allen said. "(The) offense did not play very well for the majority of the game. That is part of it. We have not played football in a long time in a game. He had not played an even longer time.”

Nonetheless, he snapped out of his funk in the fourth quarter to match Penn State’s ramped-up offense. After two quick Nittany Lion touchdowns left the Hoosiers with an 8-point deficit with 1:42 left in the game.

Without hesitation, he led the Hoosiers down the field. He completed four passes for 38 yards and ran it in for a touchdown before his two-point conversion brought the game into overtime. 

Penn State scored on the first overtime possession, so the weight was put on Penix to make a miracle happen. And he did. The redshirt sophomore threw a dime to Whop Philyor in the corner of the end zone to draw the Hoosiers within a point. Now the weight laid upon Tom Allen’s shoulders. Indiana was close, but they’ve been close before and quite frankly Indiana is sick of being close. So Allen rolled the dice with Penix one more time.

“I made the decision during the drive, that last drive,” Allen continued “I was going through my head. We got the No. 8 team in the country down here in the endzone. I knew if we scored, we got the ball on the three, one play to win it. We have been close and I am sick and tired of being close. I just decided we were going.”

With IU’s three best offensive threats— Penix, Stevie Scott, and Philyor, they took the field to try for two. 

With no other choice, Penix ran the football himself, dove for the pylon that he knocked over to win it all, before falling out of bounds. The two-point conversion was indeed good, after a lengthy review. Penix helped account for Indiana's final 16 points as the Hoosiers won the game 36-35. 

“I saw the opportunity to go out and show the world what the Indiana Hoosiers were all about,” Penix said. “Penn State played man-to-man and everybody was covered so I had to scramble. It was a two-point conversion so we have to score to win the game and I did not want to let the team down. I went out and gave it my all.”

Saturday’s win was not only IU’s second-ever against Penn State (22-2) but also the first time IU has pulled off an upset over a Top-10 team since defeating No. 9 Ohio State on October 10th, 1987.

“When it counted and when we had to have it, he made the play and that is what great players do, they come up big when the game is on the line,” Allen said. That’s a sign of toughness.

Michael Penix and the Hoosiers return to the field on October 31st when they travel to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 3:30 pm.


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