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Indiana looks for faster start against Hilltoppers

Sportsnaut
Sep 10, 2022; Bloomington, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Hoosiers running back Shaun Shivers (2) stiff arms Idaho Vandals defensive back Murvin Kenion III (0) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. The Hoosiers won 35-22.  Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Shaun Shivers will look to build off the best game of his career Saturday afternoon when the Indiana Hoosiers host Western Kentucky in Bloomington, Ind.

Shivers, a transfer from Auburn, ran for a career-high 155 yards and a touchdown in the Hoosiers’ 35-22 win over Idaho last Saturday, headlining a ground attack that finished with 239 yards. Josh Henderson and wide receiver Donaven McCulley also rushed for scores.

“Very proud of our offensive line. Proud of our running backs. Proud of our offense for doing that, because that’s a big deal for us,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said of rushing for over 200 yards for just the second time in 16 games. “I just know that that’s going to continue to be a focus.”

Still, the Hoosiers (2-0) failed to put up points in the first half, trailing the FCS team 10-0 at halftime, so they’ll need to get off to a faster start against a Western Kentucky team that features a familiar face.

Davion Ervin-Poindexter, who spent three seasons at Indiana, has been the leading rusher for the Hilltoppers (2-0) through their first two games. In Western Kentucky’s 49-17 drubbing of Hawaii last Saturday, he rushed for 42 yards on nine carries and found the end zone once.

“Davion really, so proud of him,” Allen said. “I just really appreciate his work ethic, his perseverance.”

While Ervin-Poindexter and the offense have been impressive, the defense has been the main reason for WKU’s early success.

The Hilltoppers already have forced 10 turnovers (seven interceptions, three fumbles) and recorded five sacks. They also have done a great job of closing the airways, allowing opposing quarterbacks to average just 6.6 yards with two touchdowns on 65 attempts.

Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak will be tasked with trying to carve up that defense.

Western Kentucky head coach Tyson Helton knows Bazelak, a transfer from Missouri, poses more of a threat than Austin Peay or Hawaii.

“It’ll be a challenge for our secondary for sure. We got to get pressure on the quarterback,” Helton said. “He’s a good player and I’ve been impressed with him.”

Saturday marks the fifth all-time meeting between WKU and the Hoosiers. Indiana has won all four prior contests, but by only 33-31 last season.

–Field Level Media