Story and photo courtesy of Indianapolis Athletics
INDIANAPOLIS - The UIndy football team continued its historic season Saturday, downing fourth-seeded Midwestern State, 31-14, for its first-ever NCAA Division II playoff win. The Greyhounds (10-2) received a career-high 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns from sophomore Matt Ripp while snapping the Mustangs' nine-game winning streak.
Both teams came into the day with nine-game winning streaks, but it was the Greyhounds that came away with win No. 10. MSU (10-1) was limited to just 280 total yards, nearly 200 yards below its season average.
In a match-up of two of the best offenses in Division II, it was the defenses that starred early in the contest. The teams combined for just four first downs and zero points in the first quarter, as UIndy failed to get on the board in the opening period for the first time this season.
The Greyhounds finally broke through midway through the second. The 10-play, 75-yard drive was punctuated by a nine-yard keeper by Chris Mills that proved to be the lone score of the first half.
Out of the break, the Mustangs installed 6-4, 235-pound sophomore Jake Glover at quarterback. The moved paid immediate dividends, as MSU scored on the opening series of the second half. Glover had an eight-yard completion and an 11-yard rush before Harlon Hill-candidate Keidrick Jackson took the ball 51 yards to the house.
A high snap on the Greyhound's next possession turned a would-be punt into a 31-yard loss. The UIndy miscue put the Mustangs in business once again. Midwestern needed just four plays to traverse the needed 32 yards, as another TD from Jackson gave the Mustangs their first lead of the day.
Down 14-7 midway through the third quarter, the momentum turned UIndy's way after the team unapologetically began feeding Ripp the ball. The Fishers, Ind., native got his number called seven times during the game-tying drive, capped by a four-yard touchdown plunge.
After the Greyhound defense followed by forcing one of seven Mustang punts on the day, the steady diet of Matt Ripp continued for the Mustangs. He carried the rock six times in the next 11 plays, and once again found the end zone with a 15-yard scamper to make it 21-14 UIndy.
One play into the next MSU series, the UIndy “D” delivered a damaging blow when senior linebacker Max Davis forced the first turnover of the afternoon. His hit on Shavodrick Beaver knocked the ball loose, allowing fellow-senior Justin Robinson to recover the ball at the Mustang 24-yard line. The Greyhound offense capitalized with a 19-yard field goal from Scott Miller to make it a two-possession game.
The nail in the coffin came a few minutes later when a nicked-up Klay Fiechter – who has yet to miss a game as a collegian – scored his 21st touchdown of the season with just 2:59 left on the clock.
The Hounds ultimately scored the game's final 24 points, with 17 coming in the fourth quarter.
UIndy's reward is a 1,000-mile trip to Colorado State-Pueblo, Division II's topped-ranked team. The Greyhounds will battle the Thunderwolves Nov. 24, with kickoff time scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern.