Alter grad shows poise on final drive in first game at Indiana

Connor Bazelak leads Hoosiers past Illinois in opener

Connor Bazelak, a 2019 Alter High School graduate, made Indiana Hoosiers football history in his first start for his new program Friday night. He became the first IU quarterback since Antwaan Randle El to throw for 300 or more yards in his debut.

Randle El threw for 385 against Western Michigan on Sept. 12, 1998. Bazelak completed 28 of 52 passes for 330 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 23-20 victory against Illinois in Bloomington.

Bazelak, a redshirt junior, led a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the final minutes to lift Indiana to a Week 1 victory. Shaun Shivers capped the drive with a 1-yard go-ahead touchdown run with 23 seconds to play.

Bazelak said he was just trying to keep everyone calm in the huddle in the two-minute offense, but they run that style of offense the whole game.

“We knew we had zero timeouts,” he said. “When you get in a rhythm in this offense, things really start to roll.”

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Bazelak played the last three seasons at Missouri and entered the transfer portal in December. This was his 21st career start.

Asked about Bazelak’s poise on the final drive, Indiana coach Tom Allen said, “That’s the way he always is. That’s one of the variables that stuck out to me since he’s been here. He’s extremely poised. And, like I said, it showed in that moment when you have to be under complete composure and find those open receivers and be accurate. And I thought he was accurate most of the night.”

Cam Camper, who caught three passes from Bazelak on the final drive, said of Bazelak, “It’s really just a trust thing. He knows we are going to get to our spots. I told him on the sideline, I’m going to get to my spot, just get the ball out and I got you. Honestly, that was the first time I’ve seen Connor talk for real, and I was kind of happy to see that. It was good to see him keeping us positive after certain plays, telling us it was good and we would get another one. The game kind of brought out Connor being a leader honestly.”

Bazelak won the starting job over Jack Tuttle, a redshirt senior.

“It was very close,” Allen said in August. “It was a very, very long and detailed process we went through. I have to make the final call and the buck stops with me on that. But at the same time, it’s a group decision. We feel really good about it. It’s a strong consensus by everybody, that’s what you want.”

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