West Lafayette – The Purdue Football team has experienced some close losses the last three weeks, something that is extremely frustrating for the team. Purdue got back to the winning ways, and two games from bowl eligible with a 29-10 win Saturday. The win came at a cost, as Quarterback David Blough left the game with a serious leg injury, one that had him loaded into an ambulance right off the field. The Boilers also snapped a 17 game skid of losses in November.
The Boilermakers would force Illinois into a three and out to start the game. Purdue would get the punt and drive the ball down the field. Unfortunately a fumbled snap, would put Purdue in a fourth and three. The always daring Jeff Brohm, would go for it. D.J. Knox would get the ball and appear to be stopped short of the first down, however Illinois missed the most important part of tackling; wrapping up. Knox would bounce outside and rumble 33 yards for the first Boilermaker score. Purdue got every yard of the drive on the ground.
Illinois started their true freshman Cam Thomas for the game and early he performed well. After an illegal block call, Thomas hit Ricky Smalling for 42 yards, giving Illinois momentum on their second drive. Illinois would get a first down at the nine yard line, and they would switch back and forth between Thomas and Jeff George Jr. Purdue would force a third down, and get the incompletion, but a pass interference would keep the Illinois drive alive. With the new set of downs George would hit Louis Dorsey to tie the game.
Purdue would drive the ball down field, but got behind the chains and were forcing a third and 12. David Blough would get crushed on the play but hit Jackson Anthrop for the first down. After a pass interference call Purdue would be forced into another third and two. Richie Worship would fail to convert on the final play of the quarter.
Blough would hit Worship on fourth down for the conversion for 17 yards to start the second quarter. Purdue would miss on third down and J.D. Dellinger would convert on the 26 yard field goal giving Purdue the 10-7 lead. Illinois would drive to the Purdue 43 yard line, but a false start would put them in a third and seven situation. Purdue would get the stop on third down and force the punt.
After trading punts Illinois would drive down inside the Purdue 10. A Lorenzo Neal sack on third down forced Illinois to kick a field goal, tying the game at 10 with 1:06 left in the half. Purdue would use that 1:06 to drive the ball down to the 25 yard line and Spencer Evans would convert on the 42 yard field goal to end the half.
Purdue out-gained Illinois in the first half 184 to 159, including 111 yards on the ground for a 5.8 yards per carry average. The Boilers were only 2-6 on third down, but 2-2 on fourth down. Illinois was held to only 92 yards passing and 67 yards rushing in the first half.
After a Purdue punt, the Boilers would allow a 30 yard rush on the Illini opening drive. Purdue would respond with two sacks to force a punt. Unfortunately Anthrop would muff the punt, giving Illinois prime field position at the Purdue 25 yard line. The Purdue defense would answer with some help from two Illinois penalties to force a punt. After a short punting competition between the two schools, Purdue would drive down the field including an incredible ball thrown to Jarrett Burgess. The drive would end in a field goal, but extend the Purdue lead to 16-10.
Purdue would get another huge defensive stop. On the next drive Purdue was driving down the field. Blough would rush to the right for four yards, but come down awkward on his right ankle. A targeting call would also be called, but reversed after review; which stunned everyone from announcers to fans. Blough would be put in an air cast, and placed in an ambulance. Elijah Sindelar would come in and hit Cole Herdman for the touchdown. A two point conversion was failed, but the Boilers had a 22-10 lead with just under 12 to go in the game.
Purdue would force an interception by Jacob Theineman on the next Illinois drive, with the Boilers taking over just shy of midfield. The Boilers would drive down the field, including a beautiful throw and catch from Sindelar to Gregory Phillips. The drive would be capped off with a Worship one yard touchdown drive, giving the Boilers a 29-10 lead.
Purdue ended the game with 437 yards of total offense compared to 250 for Illinois, including holding Illinois to under 100 in the second half. The Boilers got five sacks, four in the second half, against the Illini. Knox led the Boilers with 85 yards on the ground on 14 carries (6.1 ypc) and one touchdown. With four wins, Purdue has to win two of their last three to get to a bowl game, the first since 2012. In Brohm’s first year at Western Kentucky, he started 3-5 and ended the season 5-0; if Purdue could only be so fortunate to have the same.