Somehow Purdue was able to grind out a victory.
This was one of the ugliest games I can remember watching Purdue play. Somehow against an Illinois defense that allows over 30 points a game Purdue had just 6 points late into the 4th quarter. Then, Illinois decided to punt deep into Purdue territory rather than go for it. On the one hand it made sense because Purdue had done nothing on offense, but it seems like going for it on fourth down either results in extending the drive or else you give Purdue so so field position. Regardless, the decision was probably the biggest one of the game.
After the punt downed Purdue within their own 10 yard line it looked bleak. Aidan O’Connell completed a 94 yard game winning drive resulting in a 16 yard touchdown pass to TJ Sheffield on a third down. It was the play of the game to be sure. It gave Purdue the lead 13-9 but there was plenty of time left for Illinois to do what it had not been able to do all day, get in the endzone.
The Purdue defense played heroically today. They lived in the backfield, didn’t allow much in the air, and forced Illinois into punts and long field goals for the majority of the game. They got a bit tired and allowed plenty of rushing yards in the second half but when it mattered at the end of the game they made the stop. Illinois had a 4th and 10 at the end of the game to keep their hopes alive but Purdue defended well and the ball fell harmlessly to the grass. Somehow Purdue walked out of Ross-Ade Stadium with not just the Purdue Cannon but a 3-1 record on the season.
Purdue has a lot of questions right now not the least of which is the QB situation. With AOC leading a game winning drive in the 4th quarter, not to mention the only touchdown drive, it leads one to ask the question of if a change is brewing for next week’s game. Let’s hope that Purdue can find a way to get healthy in the week between games as the injuries are certainly beginning to pile up. Add Payne Durham to the list of injuries on offense.
It wasn’t the best game I’ve ever seen, and it sure won’t result in any accolades being thrown to the offense but ultimately a W is all that matters. Purdue now sits at 3-1 on the season and is halfway to bowl eligibility and Casey is halfway to sitting at a Waffle House for 24 hours straight. More to come on this one.