Campbell connects on 51-yarder to give Indiana football OT victory

BLOOMINGTON — When Charles Campbell was entering an interview area from one direction Saturday afternoon and Indiana football coach Tom Allen was passing through from another, Allen began chanting, “Chuckie! Chuckie!”

It was a student body type of thing to do, not a head coach type of thing at all, but the happiness burst out of Allen after the Hoosiers came from behind to top Western Kentucky 33-30 on Campbell’s 51-yard field goal in overtime.

The only thing not wacky about the game between the Big Ten Hoosiers and the Sun Belt Hilltoppers was the weather, played in 82-degree sunshine in front of 48,952 Memorial Stadium fans a week after IU endured a monsoon.

Allen had every right to feel sunny since IU is 3-0 — somehow — and Campbell was coming off of a game when he missed two shorter field goals. This time, the funny-shaped ball was positively directed by Campbell’s toe after taking funny bounces all day.

For the most part, IU couldn’t stop Western (2-1), only slowed the Hilltoppers, trailed 24-13 and 30-22 and spent much of the game fearing the referee’s mantra “upon further review” because mostly when the officials uttered those words involving closer inspection, it turned out painful for IU.

Last season, Western set NCAA records in the passing game. On Saturday, the Hilltoppers ran up 545 yards total, and the Hoosiers eked out the win anyway.

“Ooh, that stinks,” Allen said of the volume of yards surrendered. “That’s probably the most disappointing thing.”

But he said all week, he told the defense, “’Guys, they’re going to get some yards. Just keep them from scoring touchdowns.’”

Cam Jones led the defense, being in on 13 tackles, and Noah Pierre and Dasan McCullough each had a big sack, flooring Western QB Andre Reed (329 yards passing). Myles Jackson had a timely big-league interception.

Each team played hurry-up offense, and there were 98 passes thrown, 55 by IU’s Connor Bazelak, who steered the Hoosiers to a second fourth-quarter rally in his three games.

Bazelak completed 33 passes to 12 different receivers for 364 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. In less than 3 minutes, he led the offense 75 yards, culminated by a Cam Camper 4-yard TD, and a two-point conversion pass to Donaven McCulley, knotting the game 30-30 with 47 seconds left.

“Honestly, we knew we just had to go down and score,” said Camper, who had eight catches. “It was mandatory. We just had to buckle up and get it done.”

Which is what IU has done so far this season, facing the heat of a ticking clock to also beat Illinois and Idaho, despite showing a flawed defense and an offense without consistency in the run game.

Josh Henderson collected 65 yards and Shaun Shivers 58 in splitting the backfield job, and each did make essential plays at critical times. Shivers had one 32-yard burst, and Henderson darted into the end zone on a 19-yard score.

While the back-and-forth on the field was trying to play out with IU and Western’s quickie passing games, officials were calling big penalties, picking up flags, watching film of replays and seeming like a third team on the field.

Then the fickleness of the foot came into play. Western’s Brayden Narveson nailed field goals of 34, 20 and 23 yards and seemed poised for a standing ovation in school today. Only then he missed a 44-yard attempt in the fourth quarter, and IU’s Bryant Fitzgerald blocked another try. Narveson was then facing possible boos in first- and second-period classes.

Meanwhile, Campbell, who got a talking-to from Allen after twice missing against Idaho and working intensely all week in practice on technique, made boots of 34, 31 and 32 yards.

Overtime rules in college change frequently and differ from the NFL. When the clock ran out, an official with a live microphone said, “Where do we put the ball?” At the 25-yard-line with four cracks at the end zone.

The Hilltoppers did not score from that distance, and IU got its chance. Bazelak was sacked, Shivers had a no-gain run and the Hoosiers were moved back for Campbell, so he had to kick 51 yards.

No sweat. Campbell, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior from Jackson, Tennessee, has the mindset he can make a kick from 73 yards if someone asked. His routine calls for consultation with the holder, saying a little prayer and then blocking out the crowd.

“I go blank,” he said. “It was long, but I struck it well. You know pretty immediately when it goes off your foot. It’s my job to hit long field goals. I smoked it.”

That’s how Indiana got to be 3-0.