West Lafayette, IN– The Purdue Football team and Head Coach Darrell Hazell had planned to send off their 21 seniors with a resounding victory over an evenly matched opponent sending momentum in to the finale with Indiana. Northwestern on the other hand, had other ideas and presumed to take Purdue to the woodshed.
Not all was bad as the game started out with Danny Ezechukwu was able to intercept Trevor Siemian pass setting up the Boilers at the Northwestern 25 yard line. However three plays later Austin Appleby saw his pass batted in the air and intercepted. This began a 21 point drubbing of the Boilermakers over the course of the first quarter, including a Tony Jones 64 yard punt return for a touchdown. On the return Jones was nearly taken down more than once, but somehow was able to squeeze through and take it for the TD.
The Purdue defense did somethings right after the first quarter, as they were able to stop the Wildcats on downs where Siemian was injured. They also were able to force a fumble and a missed field goal. The Boilermaker offense, who seems to have sputtered since their impressive games against Michigan State and Minnesota, were unable to move the ball and resulted in two punts and a fumble. Purdue was able to score shortly before halftime cutting it to a 24-7.
Purdue received the football in the second half and had an impressive eight minute drive, but due to a sack Paul Griggs field goal was pushed out to 42 yards and the kick clanged off the the left upright. The game continued as a back and forth ugly football game, both on the field and in the skies as it continued to have heavy bursts of rain throughout the game. Northwestern went on to score twice in the second half and Appleby added a touchdown to senior Justin Sinz in the games final minutes.
The defense had it’s moments when it was able to stop the Wildcat offense, however they were still shredded on the ground for 233 yards. The lone bright spot was Ezechukwu as he continues to develop in to what will be a premier Big Ten linebacker alongside freshman JaWhaun Bentley. The Purdue defense was able to hold Northwestern to under 200 yards of passing, but Northwestern wasn’t in a need to pass with the effectiveness of the rushing game. The problem was the Purdue offense. An area of the field that has been decimated by injuries at the receiver position is looking for away to find its identity again after the loss of its star wide receiver Danny Anthrop. The offense also had four turnovers, which makes it very difficult for a team to recover from.
Purdue now looks ahead to its final game of the season, as they look to get the “Old Oaken Bucket” back from Bloomington in what will be both team’s final game of the season. Purdue will need to make quick work of what happened against Northwestern and look forward to Indiana.
Chris Jewell is the Purdue Athletics Beat Writer for Indiana Sports Report. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisJewellISR and Indiana Sports Report @IndySportsRep
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